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James Anthony Froude 
Julius Caesar 

The World's 

Great Books 


of Selection 

Thomas B. Reed 

William R. Harper 

Speaker of the House 
of Representatives 

President of the 
University of Chicago 

Edward Everett Hale 

Ainsworth R. Spofford 

Author of The Man 
Without a Country 

Of the Congressional 



Editor of Little Classics and Editor-in-Chief of this Series 

Aldine Edition 

Julius Caesar 


James Anthony Froude 

With a Critical and Biographical Introduction 
by Burke A. Hinsdale 


"Pardon, gentles all, 
The flat unraised spirit that hath dared 
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth 
So great an object." 

Shakespeare, Henry V 

New York 
D. Appleton and Company 


Copyright, 1899, 


» ♦ » « 


R. FROUDE left his readers in no uncertain frame 
of mind as to his views of history and historical 
composition. Besides numerous casual intimations 
of them, he elaborated them somewhat fully in a lecture 
on " The Science of History," delivered at the Royal In- 
stitution in 1864. 1 A rapid summary of his leading ideas 
will form a fitting prelude to some remarks upon his his- 
torical work in general, and especially his " Caesar." 

There is an incongruity, he tells us, in the very con- 
nection of such words as " science " and " history," much 
like the incongruity of attributing colour to sound or lati- 
tude and longitude to the rule of three. This is due to 
the absence from human affairs of the one element that is 
essential to the conception of science — or, if not its ab- 
sence, the impossibility of finding it. A science of history 
implies that the relation of cause and effect holds in human 
affairs as completely as in Nature; but wherever natural 
causes are liable to be set aside and neutralized by voli- 
tion, there " science " is a word out of place. In history 
phenomena do not repeat themselves as they do in Nature, 
so that men can not previse in the one field as they do in 
the other; furthermore, if we content ourselves with the 
past, there are still insuperable difficulties. First, the facts 
come to us through the minds of fallible men charged with 
human passions and prejudices, and we can not be sure 

1 " Short Studies on Great Subjects," vol. i. 


ACCESS \v\\5°i<i 


that we have the facts; or, if we concede the facts, the 
crux of combination and interpretation still remains. Let 
your theory of history be what it will, you will find no diffi- 
culty in providing facts to prove it. History is like a child's 
box of letters, with which he spells out what he pleases. 
If there be such a thing as a science of history, it must rest, 
like political economy as expounded by Adam Smith, on 
self-interest; but this is at variance with the facts, since 
the fundamental difference between a high order of man 
and a low order of man is self-forgetfulness and disregard 
of personal advantage, because some other line of conduct 
is seen to be more right. Thus there is that in man — and 
the more the more highly he is developed — that lies out- 
side of the chain of mechanical causation. Nor is escape 
from the contradictory and changing character of the facts 
of individual life to be found in Mr. Buckle's doctrine of 
averages, for the average of one generation is not the 
average of the next one. 

What, then, is the use of history, and what are its 
lessons? If it is largely uncertain of the past, and wholly 
uncertain of the future, why waste time over so barren 
a study? One lesson, and only one, history teaches with 
distinctness; this lesson is, that the world is built on moral 
foundations; that, in the long run, it is well with the good 
and ill with the wicked. But this is no science; it is noth- 
ing but the old doctrine long ago taught by the Hebrew 
prophets. Another lesson is, that we should draw no 
horoscopes, that we should expect little, for what we ex- 
pect will not come to pass. The revolutions and reforma- 
tions into which patriots and saints have thrown themselves 
have not borne the fruit they looked for. Millenniums are 
still far away in the future. Luther would have had less 
heart to confront the Diet of Worms if he had foreseen 
the Thirty Years' War, and Washington might not have 
drawn his sword if he could have foreseen the year 1861. 


When it is objected that this is a meagre outcome, and 
it is demanded of him whether history can teach us no 
more than this, Mr. Froude takes positive ground or pro- 
pounds his affirmative view. Shakespeare excels in this — 
that he is true to Nature; his dramas teach as life teaches, 
neither more nor less. He builds, like Nature, on right 
and wrong, but he does not try to make Nature more 
systematic than she is; he forces upon her no didactic pur- 
pose, composes no moral tales which edify the conscience 
but mislead the intellect; he has no science or theory of 
what he means. Shakespeare is the type of what the his- 
torian should be; human life is a drama, and its story 
should be dramatic. It was the same with Homer; for 
the hard purposes of history the " Iliad " and the " Odys- 
sey " are the most effective books that ever were written. 
Poetry must not theorize, and history much less, since the 
historian's obligation to be true to fact is even greater 
than the poet's. If the drama is grandest when the action 
is least explicable by laws, because then it most resembles 
life, then history is grandest also under the same condi- 
tions. History can not, indeed, be written in the com- 
plete form of the drama, but the periods of greatest interest 
to mankind may be so written that the actors shall reveal 
their character in their own words. There are all the ele- 
ments of the highest order of drama, when the huge forces 
of the times are as the Grecian destiny and the power of 
the man is seen either stemming the stream till it over- 
whelms him or ruling while he seems to yield to it. You 
should no more ask for a theory of this or that period of 
history than you should ask for a theory of " Macbeth " 
or " Hamlet." 

Such is Mr. Fronde's dramatic view of history, which 
so inspired him that he set it forth with something of dra- 
matic force and effect. Theory we must not call it, because 
he forbids us. For many years he devoted himself labori- 


ously to studying and writing history, and no one can at 
all understand why he did so who does not study his gen- 
eral view of the subject in connection with his own mental 
character and literary career. In the same way also we 
are to come at an understanding of the historical work 
that he did. 

Despite the critics who charged him while living with 
indifference to truth, we may concede to Mr. Froude a 
large interest in the voice that, as he said, is forever sound- 
ing across the centuries the laws of right and wrong. Still, 
morality was not the main attraction that history had for 
his mind; he does not come before us as a preacher of 
righteousness. Neither was it his fundamental purpose 
to teach men to draw no horoscopes and to accept things 
as they come. His interest in history lay rather in its 
dramatic element, or, speaking more broadly, in the mate- 
rials it furnished that were capable of literary treatment. 
We may concede to him historical sense, but he was drawn 
to his great pursuit by his literary sense. And not only 
so, this sense was a dominating factor in all the historical 
work that he did. His historical writings all moved in 
what the late Professor John Robert Seeley once signifi- 
cantly called " the old literary groove. " 

We have had two schools of believers in a science of 
history. The first school found absolute order, law, or 
cause and effect, prevailing in the affairs of men, and held 
that the historian's fundamental purpose is to discover 
this order or law. Such was the general conception; back 
of it was much difference of opinion as to the ultimate 
nature of historical causation, although the stronger drift 
of opinion was toward minimizing the individual will and 
conscience and toward aggrandizing collective man, or 
the social whole, and so assimilating history to the natural 
sciences. Disciple of Carlyle that he was, Froude could 
not but throw himself with all his force against such a 


conception of history as this, as we have seen that he did 
do in his lecture delivered at the Royal Institution. If 
he did not cover this view with the scorn and loathing that 
Carlyle cast over it, it was only because he lacked his mas- 
ter's power of picturesque characterization. It will hardly 
be maintained that the science of history in this sense 
has held its ground during the past quarter of a century. 
Buckle's " History of Civilization in England," which pro- 
duced such an immense sensation, is now a little-read book. 
The new school finds its science — or at least lays its 
emphasis — in another quarter. Its adherents have much 
less to say of the laws that act beneath the surface of affairs 
or the forces that move men to action; they do not, in 
fact, necessarily believe in the existence of such laws at 
all, although no doubt most of them do so believe; all 
that their creed requires them to hold is this: Here are 
phenomena in the field of what men call history; no mat- 
ter how they were produced, and without reference to 
theories of connection, our business as historians is to find 
out the facts or to lay bare the truth. The fundamental 
difference between the two schools is this: The old school 
placed the science in historical action itself, the same as 
in Nature; the new school finds it in method and in the 
temper of mind of the investigator and writer. Or, to state 
the distinction in another form, the one school undertook 
to lay down the laws of human life; the other undertakes 
only to lay down the laws of historical investigation and 
narration. There is, to be sure, no necessary conflict be- 
tween the two. The old school were quite ready to accept 
the main ideas of the new one, and they no doubt pre- 
pared the way for those ideas; nor is there any conclusive 
reason why the new school should not take up the doc- 
trines of the old one. But it will hardly be denied that, gen- 
erally, its members recoil from the doctrinaire positions 
of the old and assume a more modest role. Indeed, some 

v iii FROUDE'S "C^SAR" 

of the most pronounced disciples of the new school are 
already throwing the whole subject of historical laws and 
the philosophy of history over to the philosophers. Thus 
the latest voice from Mr. Froude's own university assures 
us that "the formation and expression of ethical judgments, 
the approval or condemnation of Caius Julius Caesar or 
of Caesar Borgia, is not a thing within the historian's prov- 
ince. His business is to find out what can be known about 
the characters and situations with which he is engaged, 
to put what he can ascertain before his readers in a clear 
form, and, lastly, to consider and attempt to ascertain what 
scientific use can be made of these facts he has ascertained. 
Ethics on its didactic side is outside his business altogether. 
In fact, MM. Langlois and Seignobos write for those ' who 
propose to deal with documents (especially written docu- 
ments) with a view to preparing or accomplishing historic 
work in a scientific way.' . . . The historian very properly 
furnishes the ethical student with material, though it is 
not right to reckon the ethical student's judgment upon 
the historian's facts as history in any sense. It is not a 
historian's question, for instance, whether Napoleon was 
right or wrong in his conduct at Jaffa, or Nelson in his 
behaviour at Naples; that is a matter for the student of 
ethics or the religious dogmatician to decide; all that 
the historian has to do is to get what conclusion he can 
out of the conflict of evidence, and to decide whether 
Napoleon and Nelson actually did that of which their ene- 
mies accuse them, or, if he can not arrive at fact, to state 
probability, and the reasons that incline him to lean to 
the affirmative or negative." * 

Such is the new science of history carried to its farthest 
limit. It is not our business to consider it in itself, beyond 

1 F. York Powell. See " To the Reader," in " Introduction to the Study 
of History," by Ch. V. Langlois and Ch. Seignobos of the Sorbonne, 
translated by G. E. Berry (New York, 1898). 


offering the obvious remark that it denies in toto the cele- 
brated aphorism commonly attributed to Lord Boling- 
broke, but in reality only quoted by him from Dionysius 
of Halicarnassus, and by him from Thucydides, " History 
is philosophy teaching by examples." The historian fur- 
nishes raw materials to the philosopher and the theologian, 
to the statesman and the soldier and other practical men; 
but as a historian he has no mission of leadership or guid- 
ance in the field of human conduct — this is the doctrine. 

While there is no evidence to show, so far as I am aware, 
that this later science of history, in a fully developed form, 
ever came before Mr. Froude for judgment, it is not diffi- 
cult to predict what, in such a case, his judgment would 
have been. In the first place, he would have recoiled from 
the rigour with which the renunciation of prudential or 
ethical purpose is pushed to its limit. Notwithstanding his 
advice to students of history to cast no horoscopes, he 
wrote: " Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and 
fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity. 
For every false word or unrighteous deed, for cruelty and 
oppression, for lust or vanity, the price has to be paid 
at last; not always by the chief offender, but paid by some 
one. Justice and truth alone endure and live. Injustice 
and falsehood may be long-lived, but doomsday comes at 
last to them, in French Revolutions and other terrible 
ways." Then, while he held the Englishman's common 
valuation of institutions, he was constitutionally incapable 
of according to them that supreme importance which the 
men of the new school demand. He was too well grounded 
in the doctrine of Individualities, and too much interested 
in human beings, to take a keen interest in such investiga- 
tions as those prosecuted by Bishop Stubbs and his dis- 
ciples. While interesting in their way, institutions are not 
very dramatic. What is more, he never could have mas- 
tered the new method. Somewhere he speaks of the in- 


calculable labour that he performed in handling materials; 
but his genius was the genius of the writing-table rather 
than of the book-shelf, the record office, and the muniment- 
room. Indeed, his name has been seized upon as an appel- 
lative for " chronic inaccuracy." " Froude was a gifted 
writer," say MM. Langlois and Seignobos, " but destined 
never to advance any statement that was not disfigured by 
error; it has been said of him that he was constitutionally 
inaccurate. . . . Froude was perfectly aware of the utility 
of criticism, and he was even one of the first in England to 
base the study of history on that of original documents, 
as well unpublished as published; but his mental conforma- 
tion rendered him altogether unfit for the emendation of 
texts; indeed, he murdered them, unintentionally, when- 
ever he touched them. Just as Daltonism (an affection of 
the organs of sight which prevents a man from distinguish- 
ing correctly between red and green signals) incapacitates 
for employment on a railway, so chronic inaccuracy, or 
' Froude's disease ' (a malady not very difficult to diag- 
nose), ought to be regarded as incompatible with the pro- 
fessional practice of critical scholarship." 

In the " Caesar " Mr. Froude appears to recognise a 
larger didactic element in history than his theory, as an- 
nounced in his lecture, would justify. He begins with com- 
menting upon the peculiar interest that the conversion of 
the Roman Republic into a military empire has for the 
student of political history, and to the English student 
above all others. The Romans surpassed all other peoples 
save the English in the faculty of self-government; in vir- 
tue of their temporal freedom, they became the most power- 
ful nation in the world; and their liberties perished only 
when Rome became the mistress of conquered races to 
whom she was unable or unwilling to extend her privileges. 
England herself, he tells us, might under similar circum- 
stances be led over the same course to the same end. ' If 


there be one lesson which history clearly teaches, it is this, 
that free nations can not govern subject provinces. If 
they are unable or unwilling to admit their dependencies 
to their own constitution, the constitution itself will fall 
in pieces from mere incompetence for its duties." 

The action opens in the second chapter. After sketch- 
ing briefly but strongly the character of the Roman con- 
stitution, the Roman legal fibre and habit, the Roman 
religion, morality, and intellect, the author plunges boldly 
into the stream of events that, setting in with the begin- 
ning of the provincial system, never ceased to flow until 
Romans were confronted, whether they saw it or not, with 
the alternative of the total destruction of Rome as a great 
political and military power and a total change in its con- 
stitution. While he sees that, when things came to the 
worst, the Roman mob was as unfit to rule as the Roman 
Senate, still his sympathies are with the mob, or at least 
with the populace, rather than with the Senate. Whatever 
his political principles and affiliations as an Englishman 
may have been, he boldly takes his place with the popular 
party, not merely of Rome but of History. When all is 
said and done, that is still the party of moderation and 
mercy. He puts the case in this powerful paragraph: 

" Patricians and plebeians, aristocrats and democrats, 
have alike stained their hands with blood in the working 
out of the problem of politics. But impartial history also 
declares that the crimes of the popular party have in all 
ages been the lighter in degree, while in themselves they 
have more to excuse them; and if the violent acts of revo- 
lutionists have been held up more conspicuously for con- 
demnation, it has been only because the fate of noblemen 
and gentlemen has been more impressive to the imagina- 
tion than the fate of the peasant or the artisan. But the 
endurance of the inequalities of life by the poor is the 
marvel of human society. When the people complain, 


said Mirabeau, the people are always right. The popular 
cause has been the cause of the labourer struggling for a 
right to live and breathe and think as a man. Aristocra- 
cies fight for wealth and power — wealth which they waste 
upon luxury, and power which they abuse for their own 
interests. Yet the cruelties of Marius were as far exceeded 
by the cruelties of Sylla as the insurrection of the beggars 
of Holland was exceeded by the bloody tribunal of the 
Duke of Alva; or as 'the horrors of the French Revolu- 
tion ' were exceeded by the massacre of the Huguenots two 
hundred years before, for which the Revolution was the 
expiatory atonement." 

Holding this view of the democracy and the aristocracy 
in general, and of the Roman democracy and aristocracy 
in particular, Mr. Froude necessarily takes the popular side 
throughout, from the enacting of the Agrarian Laws to the 
final merger of the Roman Republic in the Roman Empire. 
He is not blind to the mistakes and excesses of the popular 
leaders, or to the ignorance and passions of the populace 
themselves, but it is almost as easy for him to extenuate 
their shortcomings as it is for him to denounce the folly 
and wickedness of the aristocrats. 

History might be searched through to find a theme more 
consonant with Mr. Froude's theories of history and his- 
torical narrative, or with his own peculiar genius, than the 
career of Julius Caesar. The result is a typical book in all 
respects, showing to the full both the author's strength 
and his weakness. If historical action ever or anywhere 
took on the grandest forms of the drama, it was in the 
Roman world between the appearance of the Gracchi in 
the Forum and the final exit of Caesar in the Senate-house. 
The scene shifts continually, and the changes could hardly 
be more striking. Rome, the Italian provinces, Spain, 
Gaul, Britain, the Rhine frontier, Greece, Asia Minor, 
Syria, Africa, succeed one another, and repeat themselves, 

FROUDE'S "C^SAR" x iii 

with astonishing swiftness. Great characters throng the 
stage — the Gracchi, Marius, Sylla, Pompey the Great, 
Mithridates, Cicero, Crassus, Cato, Cleopatra, Vercingeto- 
rix, and the " foremost man in all the world " himself; 
while the Roman populace, the Italian provincials, the 
Spaniard and the Gaul, the Celt and the German, the Greek 
and the Syrian, the Parthian and the Moor, fill up the back- 
ground. Naturally, Mr. Froude made the most of his 
opportunity. A far greater dramatist than he was drawn 
to the same subject; but even Shakespeare utilized for his 
purpose only a small part of the dramatic material in which 
the period abounds. 

But on the negative as well as on the positive side the 
theme was suited to the writer's genius. There was plenty 
of opportunity for an author of great critical talents to 
go wrong in telling the story, and Mr. Froude's critics 
were not slow to point out that the rushing tide of his nar- 
rative bore on its surface errors of fact so numerous and 
so serious as greatly to impair, if not destroy, the value 
of his work as an authority. But, fortunately for him, 
there is no great historical theme that admits of more error 
in details without necessarily sacrificing or even endanger- 
ing the truth of the picture considered as a whole. With 
the exception of a few scholars, it may be doubted whether 
Mr. Froude's inaccuracies made any impression upon the 
readers of his fascinating pages. Of course, it will be said 
that few of these readers knew anything about these in- 
accuracies; but w r e fancy it would have made little differ- 
ence with the majority if they had known all about them. 
It is easy to say, " The more's the pity!" but common 
sense comes back with the reply, " What's the difference, 
so long as the general effect is the same? ' Great human 
transactions are like great objects of Nature, as the sea 
or the mountains; they make men indifferent to nice criti- 
cism and minute observation, if not impatient of them. 


For example, it was pointed out when the book appeared 
that the senatorial juries could not have been guilty of all 
the infamies with which Froude charges them, for the very 
simple reason that civil cases and many criminal ones did 
not come before them, although he distinctly asserts the 
contrary; but somehow, in the presence of the innumer- 
able iniquities of which the members of the order were 
guilty, we do not feel that, after all, it makes much differ- 
ence. Men listen with most interest and profit to the his- 
torical critic when he deals with topics in which the blood 
does not come so near to the surface. It is very true that 
this is not the science of history according to either of the 
schools characterized above. No special vindication of this 
way of looking at things is intended; but it is important to 
state the facts and show how they serve to explain the 
success of a great work of literature. 

Again, while the story that Mr. Froude has to tell is 
so consonant with his theories and his genius, there is per- 
haps no story that tends more directly to overthrow those 
theories and to confirm the central idea of the first school 
of historical science. Nowhere else in the Western world, 
certainly, does the stream of historic events seem to be 
more utterly regardless of individual wills, and so to sup- 
port more fully the conception of primitive elemental forces 
working in human affairs. No doubt the conclusion is fal- 
lacious; but it is interesting nevertheless, with the thought 
in mind, to glance at a single phase of the great movement. 

The popular party at Rome presented to the aristocracy 
of wealth an unflagging opposition, and triumphed over it 
in the end; but this triumph involved the conversion of 
the commonwealth into the empire, which for a time gave 
peace and order to the world, bringing in universal ideas 
and universal laws, and preparing the way for Christian- 
ity, and so unquestionably extended the life of the Roman 
world by some centuries; but still it ended in an Oriental 


despotism, the atrocities of which surpass those of the 
senatorial domination. The senatorial party at Rome was 
indeed incapable of giving to the world, even for a season, 
the peace and order that the empire secured, but its fail- 
ure could hardly have been more disastrous in the end. 
It was a strange ending for a popular movement. It seems 
the very irony of history that a great popular teacher 
should have founded the greatest of the ancient empires. 
The great facts that the " Caesar " brings into view are 
these: The internal decay of the commonwealth; the steady 
expansion of the Roman world despite that decay; the 
increasing non-adaptation of the constitution, well suited 
as it had been to the city, to the needs of a world-empire; 
the ideals, interests, and passions of the two contending 
parties; the aims, character, and work of the leaders on 
both sides, and the final consummation. Some of these 
topics hardly admit of serious difference of opinion; con- 
cerning others, men always have disagreed, and there is 
no reason to think that they will ever come to a complete 
agreement. The search for historic truth should be as 
rigorous and scientific as possible; the historian should 
burn the " dry light," and guard against the " suffusion " 
that arises from the affections and the will; but history 
can not be put on the same footing with the physical sci- 
ences. It will be idle, in the long run, to tell the historical 
scholar that he ought to look upon the doings of Bona- 
parte at Jaffa or of Nelson at Naples as the astronomer 
looks upon the ebb and flow of the tide, or the geologist 
upon the spouting of a geyser. History can not be made 
wholly objective or wholly impersonal. Man has much 
more than a scientific interest for man. Nor does it dis- 
pose of the question to hand the ethical matters over to 
the philosopher and the dogmatician, for the separation 
of these elements from history is neither practicable nor 
desirable. Then, from the very nature of the case, no ques- 


tions are so difficult to pass upon as the aims, spirit, char- 
acter, and even work of most great actors in history. Add 
to this difficulty the further one arising from the paucity 
of evidence or its character, and we have the reason why 
unanimity of opinion upon many of the questions that 
Mr. Froude deals with is not to be expected. 

Take the state of things at Rome in the days of Cicero 
and Pompey, and it presents this question: Could society 
have existed if men generally were so corrupt, selfish, and 
base as they are here represented as being? Must there 
not have been in this case, and is there not in all such cases, 
a vast mass of virtues that the historian, and particularly 
the dramatic historian, fails to discover? Reading history 
under the calcium lights of Carlyle, for example, is some- 
thing like studying a landscape under a succession of light- 
ning flashes. The lights blaze down into the deep caverns, 
they reveal unseen nooks and corners, they light up many 
a dark recess; they blind with their glare, and they terrify 
with their shade, but the picture is unreal and unnatural. 
It is well enough to study a landscape during an electric 
storm; but if it be one's purpose to know the landscape 
as it really is, and not merely to admire brilliant colours 
and deep shadows, he will choose rather to study it under 
the strong but calm rays of the noonday sun. 

Then there is the character and the work of Caesar — 
how can men ever agree about them? No doubt those 
who are most competent to judge Caesar have come nearer 
together, but such approaches have their limits. How 
far was he actuated by purely patriotic purpose, and how 
far by lust of power? The question can not be pushed 
aside, for the answer is intimately related to our view of 
Caesar as a man. In such matters men can not get wholly 
away from themselves; and since they differ in themselves, 
they will differ in opinion. Thus one's view of Caesar will 
turn in a large degree upon his view of the long-continued 


struggle at Rome, as Mr. Froude himself illustrates. Hap- 
pily, there is little chance for dispute as to the greatness 
of Caesar's abilities or the magnitude of his achievements. 
But the conversion of the commonwealth into the empire 
fairly bristles with difficulties, some of which intimately 
affect our judgment of Caesar's statesmanship. Grant that 
the conversion lengthened out the life of the Roman world, 
that the empire of history was not the empire of Caesar's 
vision, that he strove to guard against the despotism of 
the rulers who took, some their name and all their title, 
from him, by restoring and building up local organs and 
institutions that should safeguard freedom and curb tyr- 
anny. Still, a statesman is partially accountable for results 
that he did not plan or desire. It is not a light thing to 
introduce a new cause of tremendous power into the chain 
of historical causation. If Caesar was the man Mr. Froude 
takes him for, he might well have hesitated, had he been 
endowed with prevision, to make a beginning of the em- 
pire. In the end, Caesarism proved to be no cure for the 
evils of republicanism. The great thing that Caesarism, 
or the Roman Empire, did for the world — and it was very 
great — Mr. Froude has told us in one of his numerous 
paragraphs that are hardly consistent with his theory of 

" The Roman nation had grown as the oak grows, self- 
developed in severe morality, each citizen a law to him- 
self, and therefore capable of political freedom in an un- 
exampled degree. All organizations destined to endure 
spring from forces inherent in themselves, and must grow 
freely, or they will not grow at all. When the tree reaches 
maturity, decay sets in; if it be left standing, the disinte- 
gration of the fibre goes swiftly forward; if the stem is 
severed from the root, the destroying power is arrested, 
and the timber will endure a thousand years. So it was 
with Rome. The constitution under which the empire 

xv iii FROUDE'S "C,£SAR" 

had sprung up was poisoned, and was brought to a violent 
end before it had affected materially for evil the masses of 
the people. The solid structure was preserved — not to 
grow any longer, not to produce a new Camillus or a new 
Regulus, a new Scipio Africanus or a new Tiberius Grac- 
chus, but to form an endurable shelter for civilized man- 
kind, until a fresh, spiritual life was developed out of Pales- 
tine to remodel the conscience of humanity." 

What has been said makes it very easy to point out the 
credentials of the " Caesar," entitling it to stand among the 
great books of literature. They are not great thorough- 
ness of research, great accuracy in facts, or special sound- 
ness of critical judgment. The book does not bear these 
marks of excellence; what is more, it might have borne 
them all and still have no claim to be admitted to the goodly 
company where we find it. Its credentials will rather be 
found in the fact that the " Caesar " is an extraordinarily 
powerful and brilliant sketch, correct in its general features, 
of one of the most remarkable series of events in the his- 
tory of mankind. 

James Anthony Froude was born in Devonshire, Eng- 
land, in 1818. His father was a clergyman, and the 
son, after graduation at Oxford in 1840, was ordained 
deacon, and became a Fellow of Exeter College. But his 
" Shadows of the Clouds " (1847) and " Nemesis of Faith " 
(1848) exhibited radical dissent from the doctrines of the 
Established Church, and were condemned by the uni- 
versity. Froude thereupon resigned his fellowship, and 
as soon as he could legally do so withdrew from clerical 
orders. He devoted his life to literature, and pro- 
duced about thirty works, the most extensive being a 
' History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the De- 
feat of the Spanish Armada " (twelve volumes, 1856-70). 
The others include " The English in Ireland in the Eight- 


eenth Century/' biographies of Becket, Bunyan, Luther, 
Beaconsfield, and Erasmus, " The English in the West 
Indies," and a novel entitled " The Two Chiefs of Dunboy." 
He was Carlyle's literary executor, and published the life 
and letters of both Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. He 
was made Rector of St. Andrew's University in 1869, and 
in 1892 succeeded Freeman as regius professor of his- 
tory at Oxford. Froude's first wife was Miss Grenfell, a 
sister of Charles Kingsley's wife, and is said to have 
been the original of Argemone Lavington in Kingsley's 
" Yeast." She died in i860, and three years later he mar- 
ried Miss Warre. Mr. Froude died at Salcombe, Devon- 
shire, October 20, 1894. He is said to have had a wonder- 
ful charm of manner, which influenced every one whom 

he met. 

Burke A. Hinsdale. 


» ♦ ♦ - 

I HAVE called this work a " sketch " because the mate- 
rials do not exist for a portrait which shall be at once 
authentic and complete. The original authorities 
which are now extant for the life of Caesar are his own 
writings, the speeches and letters of Cicero, the eighth 
book of the " Commentaries " on the wars in Gaul and 
the history of the Alexandrian war, by Aulus Hirtius, the 
accounts of the African war and of the war in Spain, com- 
posed by persons who were unquestionably present in those 
two campaigns. To these must be added the " Leges 
Juliae " which are preserved in the Corpus Juris Civilis. 
Sallust contributes a speech, and Catullus a poem. A few 
hints can be gathered from the Epitome of Livy and the 
fragments of Varro; and here the contemporary sources 
which can be entirely depended upon are brought to 
an end. 

The secondary group of authorities from which the 
popular histories of the time have been chiefly taken are 
Appian, Plutarch, Suetonius, and Dion Cassius. Of these, 
the first three were divided from the period which they 
describe by nearly a century and a half, Dion Cassius by 
more than two centuries. They had means of knowledge 
which no longer exist — the writings, for instance, of Asin- 
ius Pollio, who was one of Caesar's officers. But Asinius 
Pollio's accounts of Caesar's actions, as reported by Ap- 


xxii FROUDE'S " C^SAR " 

pian, can not always be reconciled with the " Commen- 
taries "; and all these four writers relate incidents as facts 
which are sometimes demonstrably false. Suetonius is 
apparently the most trustworthy. His narrative, like those 
of his contemporaries, was coloured by tradition. His 
biographies of the earlier Caesars betray the same spirit 
of animosity against them which taints the credibility of 
Tacitus, and prevailed for so many years in aristocratic 
Roman society. But Suetonius shows, nevertheless, an 
effort at veracity, an antiquarian curiosity and diligence, 
and a serious anxiety to tell his story impartially. Sueto- 
nius, in the absence of evidence direct or presumptive to 
the contrary, I have felt myself able to follow. The other 
three writers I have trusted only when I have found them 
partially confirmed by evidence which is better to be re- 
lied upon. 

The picture which I have drawn will thus be found 
deficient in many details which have passed into general 
acceptance, and I have been unable to claim for it a higher 
title than that of an outline drawing. 










gc A *y 

w . , , 





Free Constitutions and imperial tendencies — Instructiveness of 
Roman history — Character of historical epochs — The age of 
Caesar — Spiritual state of Rome — Contrasts between ancient 
and modern civilization I 


The Roman Constitution — Moral character of the Romans — Roman 
religion — Morality and intellect — Expansion of Roman power 
— The Senate — Roman slavery — Effects of intercourse with 
Greece — Patrician degeneracy — The Roman noble — Influence 
of wealth — Beginnings of discontent ...... 8 


Tiberius Gracchus — Decay of the Italian yeomanry — Agrarian law 
— Success and murder of Gracchus — Land commission — Caius 
Gracchus — Transfer of judicial functions from the Senate to 
the Equites — Sempronian laws — Free grants of corn — Plans for 
extension of the franchise — New colonies — Reaction — Murder 
of Caius Gracchus . .19 


Victory of the Optimates — The Moors — History of Jugurtha — The 
Senate corrupted — Jugurthine war — Defeat of the Romans — 
Jugurtha comes to Rome — Popular agitation — The war renewed 
— Roman defeats in Africa and Gaul — Cascilius Metellus and 
Caius Marius — Marriage of Marius — The Caesars — Marius con- 
sul — First notice of Sylla — Capture and death of Jugurtha . 29 


Birth of Cicero — The Cimbri and Teutons — German immigration 
into Gaul — Great defeat of the Romans on the Rhone — Wan- 






derings of the Cimbri — Attempted invasion of Italy — Battle of 
Aix — Destruction of the Teutons — Defeat of the Cimbri on the 
Po — Reform in the Roman army — Popular disturbances in 
Rome — Murder of Memmius — Murder of Saturninus and Glau- 
cia 38 


Birth and childhood of Julius Caesar — Italian franchise — Discontent 
of the Italians — Action of the land laws — The social war — Par- 
tial concessions — Sylla and Marius — Mithridates of Pontus — 
First mission of Sylla into Asia 45 


War with Mithridates — Massacre of Italians in Asia — Invasion of 
Greece — Impotence and corruption of the Senate — End of the 
social war — Sylla appointed to the Asiatic command — The As- 
sembly transfer the command to Marius — Sylla marches on 
Rome — Flight of Marius — Change of the Constitution — Sylla 
sails for the East — Four years' absence — Defeat of Mithridates 
— Contemporary incidents at Rome — Counter-revolution — Con- 
sulship of Cinna — Return of Marius — Capitulation of Rome — 
Massacre of patricians and equites — Triumph of Democracy . 53 


The young Caesar — Connection with Marius — Intimacy with the 
Ciceros — Marriage of Caesar with the daughter of Cinna — Ser- 
torius — Death of Cinna — Consulships of Norbanus and Scipio 
— Sylla's return — First appearance of Pompey — Civil war — 
Victory of Sylla — The dictatorship and the proscription — De- 
struction of the popular party and murder of the popular lead- 
ers — General character of aristocratic revolutions — The Consti- 
tution remodelled — Concentration of power in the Senate — 
Sylla's general policy — The army — Flight of Sertorius to Spain 
— Pompey and Sylla — Csesar refuses to divorce his wife at 
Sylla's order — Danger of Csesar — His pardon — Growing conse- 
quence of Cicero — Defence of Roscius — Sylla's abdication and 
death 62 


Sertorius in Spain — Warning of Cicero to the patricians — Leading 
aristocrats — Csesar with the army in the East — Nicomedes of 



Bithynia — The Bithynian scandal — Conspiracy of Lepidus — 
Caesar returns to Rome — Defeat of Lepidus — Prosecution of 
Doiabella — Caesar taken by pirates — Senatorial corruption — 
Universal disorder — Civil war in Spain — Growth of Mediter- 
ranean piracy — Connivance of the Senate — Provincial adminis- 
tration — Verres in Sicily — Prosecuted by Cicero — Second war 
with Mithridates — First success of Lucullus — Failure of Lucul- 
lus, and the cause of it — Avarice of Roman commanders — The 
gladiators — The Servile War — Results of the change in the 
Constitution introduced by Sylla 81 


Caesar military tribune — Becomes known as a speaker — Is made 
quaestor — Speech at his aunt's funeral — Consulship of Pompey 
and Crassus — Caesar marries Pompey's cousin — Mission to 
Spain — Restoration of the powers of the tribunes — The Equites 
and the Senate — The pirates — Food supplies cut off from Rome 
— The Gabinian law — Resistance of the patricians — Suppression 
of the pirates by Pompey — The Manilian law — Speech of Cicero 
— Recall of Lucullus — Pompey sent to command in Asia — De- 
feat and death of Mithridates — Conquest of Asia by Pompey . 98 


History of Catiline — A candidate for the consulship — Catiline and 
Cicero— Cicero chosen consul — Attaches himself to the sena- 
torial party — Caesar elected aedile — Conducts an inquiry into 
the Syllan proscriptions — Prosecution of Rabirius — Caesar be- 
comes Pontifex Maximus— And Praetor— Cicero's conduct as 
consul — Proposed Agrarian law — Resisted by Cicero — Catiline 
again stands for the consulship— Violent language in the Sen- 
ate — Threatened revolution — Catiline again defeated — The con- 
spiracy — Warnings sent to Cicero — Meeting at Catiline's house 
—Speech of Cicero in the Senate— Catiline joins an army of in- 
surrection in Etruria — His fellow-conspirators— Correspondence 
with the Allobroges— Letters read in the Senate— The con- 
spirators seized— Debate upon their fate— Speech of Caesar- 
Caesar on the future state— Speech of Cato— And of Cicero— 
The conspirators executed untried — Death of Catiline . . 108 


Preparations for the return of Pompey— Scene in the Forum— Cato 
and Metellus— Caesar suspended from the praetorship— Caesar 



supports Pompey — Scandals against Caesar's private life — Gen- 
eral character of them — Festival of the Bona Dea — Publius 
Clodius enters Caesar's house dressed as a woman — Prosecu- 
tion and trial of Clodius — His acquittal and the reason of it — 
Successes of Caesar as pro-praetor in Spain — Conquest of Lusi- 
tania — Return of Pompey to Italy — First speech in the Senate 
— Precarious position of Cicero — Cato and the Equites — Caesar 
elected consul — Revival of the democratic party — Anticipated 
Agrarian law — Uneasiness of Cicero 133 


The consulship of Caesar — Character of his intended legislation — 
The Land Act first proposed in the Senate — Violent opposition 
— Caesar appeals to the Assembly — Interference of the second 
consul Bibulus — The Land Act submitted to the people — Pom- 
pey and Crassus support it — Bibulus interposes, but without 
success — The Act carried — And other laws — The Senate no 
longer being consulted — General purpose of the Leges Juliae — 
Caesar appointed to command in Gaul for five years — His ob- 
ject in accepting that province — Condition of Gaul and the dan- 
gers to be apprehended from it — Alliance of Caesar, Pompey, 
and Crassus — The Dynasts — Indignation of the aristocracy — 
Threats to repeal Caesar's laws — Necessity of controlling Cicero 
and Cato — Clodius is made tribune — Prosecution of Cicero for 
illegal acts when consul — Cicero's friends forsake him — He flies 
and is banished 155 


Caesar's military narrative — Divisions of Gaul — Distribution of pop- 
ulation — The Celts — Degree of civilization — Tribal system — 
The Druids — The ^Edui and the Sequani — Roman and Ger- 
man parties — Intended migration of the Helvetii — Composition 
of Caesar's army — He goes to Gaul — Checks the Helvetii — Re- 
turns to Italy for larger forces — The Helvetii on the Saone — 
Defeated and sent back to Switzerland — Invasion of Gaul by 
Ariovistus — Caesar invites him to a conference — He refuses — 
Alarm in the Roman army — Caesar marches against Ariovistus 
— Interview between them — Treachery of the Roman Senate — 
Great battle at Colmar — Defeat and annihilation of the Ger- 
mans — End of the first campaign — Confederacy among the 
Belgae — Battle on the Aisne — War with the Nervii — Battle of 



Maubeuge — Capture of Namur — The Belgas conquered — Sub- 
mission of Brittany — End of the second campaign . . .176 


Cicero and Clodius — Position and character of Clodius — Cato sent 
to Cyprus — Attempted recall of Cicero defeated by Clodius — 
Fight in the Forum — Pardon and return of Cicero — Moderate 
speech to the people — Violence in the Senate — Abuse of Piso 
and Gabinius — Coldness of the Senate toward Cicero — Resto- 
ration of Cicero's house — Interfered with by Clodius — Factions 
of Clodius and Milo — Ptolemy Auletes expelled by his subjects 
— Appeals to Rome for help — Alexandrian envoys assassinated 
— Clodius elected aedile — Fight in the Forum — Parties in Rome 
— Situation of Cicero — Rally of the aristocracy — Attempt to 
repeal the Leges Julias — Conference at Lucca — Cassar, Pompey, 
and Crassus — Cicero deserts the Senate — Explains his motives 
— Confirmation of the Ordinances of Lucca — Pompey and Cras- 
sus consuls — Caesar's command prolonged for five additional 
years — Rejoicings in Rome — Spectacle in the amphitheatre . 203 


Revolt of the Veneti — Fleet prepared in the Loire— Sea-fight at 
Quiberon — Reduction of Normandy and of Aquitaine — Com- 
plete conquest of Gaul — Fresh arrival of Germans over the 
lower Rhine — Cassar orders them to retire, and promises them 
lands elsewhere — They refuse to go — And are destroyed — 
Bridge over the Rhine — Caesar invades Germany — Returns after 
a short inroad — First expedition into Britain — Cassar lands at 
Deal, or Walmer— Storm and injury to the fleet— Approach of 
the equinox — Further prosecution of the enterprise postponed 
till the following year— Cassar goes to Italy for the winter- 
Large naval preparations— Return of spring — Alarm on the 
Moselle — Fleet collects at Boulogne — Cassar sails for Britain a 
second time — Lands at Deal— Second and more destructive 
storm— Ships repaired and placed out of danger— Cassar 
marches through Kent — Crosses the Thames and reaches St. 
Albans— Goes no further and returns to Gaul— Object of the 
invasion of Britain — Description of the country and people . 230 


Distribution of the legions after the return from Britain— Conspir- 
acy among the Gallic chiefs— Rising of the Eburones— Destruc- 



tion of Sabinus and a division of the Roman army — Danger of 
Quintus Cicero — Relieved by Caesar in person — General dis- 
turbance — Labienus attacked at Lavacherie — Defeats and kills 
Induciomarus — Second conquest of the Belgae — Caesar again 
crosses the Rhine — Quintus Cicero in danger a second time — 
Courage of a Roman officer — Punishment of the revolted chiefs 
— Execution of Acco 247 


Correspondence of Cicero with Cassar — Intimacy with Pompey and 
Crassus — Attacks on Piso and Gabinius — Cicero compelled to 
defend Gabinius — And Vatinius — Dissatisfaction with his posi- 
tion — Corruption at the consular elections — Public scandal — 
Caesar and Pompey — Deaths of Aurelia and Julia — Catastrophe 
in the East — Overthrow and death of Crassus — Intrigue to de- 
tach Pompey from Caesar — Milo a candidate for the consulship 
— Murder of Clodius — Burning of the Senate-house — Trial and 
exile of Milo — Fresh engagements with Caesar — Promise of the 
consulship at the end of his term in Gaul 262 


Last revolt of Gaul — Massacre of Romans at Gien — Vercingetorix 
— Effect on the Celts of the disturbances at Rome — Caesar 
crosses the Cevennes — Defeats the Arverni — Joins his army on 
the Seine — Takes Gien, Nevers, and Bourges — Fails at Gergo- 
via — Rapid march to Sens — Labienus at Paris — Battle of the 
Vingeanne — Siege of Alesia — Caesar's double lines — Arrival of 
the relieving army of Gauls — First battle on the plain — Second 
battle — Great defeat of the Gauls — Surrender of Alesia — Cam- 
paign against the Carnutes and the Bellovaci — Rising on the 
Dordogne— Capture of Uxellodunum — Caesar at Arras — Com- 
pletion of the conquest 280 


Bibulus in Syria— Approaching term of Caesar's government- 
Threats of impeachment— Caesar to be consul or not to be con- 
sul—Caesar's political ambition— Hatred felt toward him by 
the aristocracy — Two legions taken from him on pretence of 
service against the Parthians — Caesar to be recalled before the 
expiration of his government — Senatorial intrigues— Curio de- 
serts the Senate— Labienus deserts Caesar — Cicero in Cilicia— 



Returns to Rome — Pompey determined on war — Cicero's un- 
certainties — Resolution of the Senate and consuls — Caesar 
recalled — Alarm in Rome — Alternative schemes — Letters of 
Cicero — Caesar's crime in the eyes of the Optimates . . . 302 


Caesar appeals to his army — The tribunes join him at Rimini — Panic 
and flight of the Senate — Incapacity of Pompey — Fresh nego- 
tiations — Advance of Caesar — The country districts refuse to 
arm against him — Capture of Corfinium — Release of the pris- 
oners — Offers of Caesar — Continued hesitation of Cicero — Ad- 
vises Pompey to make peace — Pompey with the Senate and 
consuls flies to Greece — Cicero's reflections — Pompey to be 
another Sylla — Caesar mortal, and may die by more means than 
one . 319 


Pompey 's army in Spain — Caesar at Rome — Departure for Spain — 
Marseilles refuses to receive him — Siege of Marseilles — Defeat 
of Pompey 's lieutenants at Lerida — The whole army made pris- 
oners — Surrender of Varro — Marseilles taken — Defeat of Curio 
by King Juba in Africa — Caesar named Dictator — Confusion in 
Rome — Caesar at Brindisi — Crosses to Greece in midwinter — 
Again offers peace — Pompey's fleet in the Adriatic — Death of 
Bibulus — Failure of negotiations — Caelius and Milo killed — Ar- 
rival of Antony in Greece with the second divisions of Caesar's 
army — Siege of Durazzo — Defeat and retreat of Caesar — The 
Senate and Pompey — Pursuit of Caesar — Battle of Pharsalia — 
Flight of Pompey — The camp taken — Complete overthrow of 
the Senatorial faction — Cicero on the situation once more . 333 


Pompey flies to Egypt — State of parties in Egypt — Murder of Pom- 
pey — His character — Caesar follows him to Alexandria — Rising 
in the city — Caesar besieged in the palace — Desperate fighting 
— Arrival of Mithridates of Pergamus — Battle near Cairo, and 
death of the young Ptolemy — Cleopatra — The detention of 
Caesar enables the Optimates to rally — 111 conduct of Caesar's 
officers in Spain — War with Pharnaces — Battle of Zela, and 
settlement of Asia Minor 360 

xxxii FROUDE'S "C^SAR" 


The aristocracy raise an army in Africa — Supported by Juba — Phar- 
salia not to end the war — Caesar again in Rome — Restores 
order — Mutiny in Caesar's army — The mutineers submit — Caesar 
lands in Africa — Difficulties of the campaign — Battle of Thap- 
sus — No more pardons — Afranius and Faustus Sylla put to 
death — Cato kills himself at Utica — Scipio killed — Juba and 
Petreius die on each other's swords — A scene in Caesar's camp 375 


Rejoicings in Rome — Caesar Dictator for the year — Reforms the 
Constitution — Reforms the Calendar — And the criminal law — 
Dissatisfaction of Cicero — Last efforts in Spain of Labienus 
and the young Pompeys — Caesar goes thither in person accom- 
panied by Octavius — Caesar's last battle at Munda — Death of 
Labienus — Capture of Cordova — Close of the Civil War — Gen- 
eral reflections 386 


Caesar once more in Rome — General amnesty — The surviving Opti- 
mates pretend to submit — Increase in the number of Senators — 
Introduction of foreigners — New colonies — Carthage — Corinth 
— Sumptuary regulations — Digest of the law — Intended Par- 
thian war — Honours heaped on Caesar — The object of them — 
Caesar's indifference — Some consolations — Hears of conspira- 
cies, but disregards them — Speculations of Cicero in the last 
stage of the war — Speech in the Senate — A contrast, and the 
meaning of it — The Kingship — Antony offers Caesar the crown, 
which Caesar refuses — The assassins — Who they were — Brutus 
and Cassius — Two officers of Caesar's among them — Warnings 
— Meeting of the conspirators — Caesar's last evening — The Ides 
of March — The Senate-house — Caesar killed .... 398 


Consternation in Rome — The conspirators in the Capitol — Unfore- 
seen difficulties — Speech of Cicero — Caesar's funeral — Speech 
of Antony — Fury of the people — The funeral pile in the Forum 
— The King is dead, but the monarchy survives — Fruitlessness 
of the murder — Octavius and Antony — Union of Octavius, An- 

CONTENTS xxxiii 


tony, and Lepidus — Proscription of the assassins — Philippi, and 
the end of Brutus and Cassius — Death of Cicero — His char- 
acter 422 


General remarks on Cassar — Mythological tendencies — Supposed 
profligacy of Caesar — Nature of the evidence — Servilia — Cleo- 
patra — Personal appearance of Cassar — His manners in private 
life — Considerations upon him as a politician, a soldier, and a 
man of letters — Practical justice his chief aim as a politician — 
Universality of military genius — Devotion of his army to him, 
how deserved — Art of reconciling conquered peoples — General 
scrupulousness and leniency — Oratorical and literary style — 
Cicero's description of it — His lost works — Cato's judgment on 
the Civil War — How Cassar should be estimated — Legend of 
Charles V — Spiritual condition of the age in which Cassar lived 
— His work on earth to establish order and good government, 
to make possible the introduction of Christianity — A parallel . 436 



James Anthony Froude . . . . Frontispiece 

Photogravure from a photograph 

The Sibyl of Tiburtis announcing to Cesar the 

coming of Jesus Christ xx 

Miniature from an Italian manuscript of the fifteenth century, 
attributed to Giulio Clovio, now in the Arsenal Library at 

Caius Julius Cesar 114 

Steel engraving by Hezekiah W. Smith after a painting by Jean 
A. D. Ingres 

Gaul in Time of Cesar 178 

Vercingetorix before Cesar 298 

Photogravure from a painting by Lionel Royer, exhibited in the 
Paris Salon of 1899 

Temple of Jupiter in Rome 376 

Photogravure from a painting by Alexander Wagner and J. 

Death of Cesar 418 

Photogravure from a painting by Jean Leon Gerome 

Marc Antony Delivering Cesar's Funeral Oration . 426 
Photogravure from a painting by Joseph Desiri Court 




TO the student of political history, and to the Eng- 
lish student above all others, the conversion of the 
Roman Republic into a military empire commands 
a peculiar interest. Notwithstanding many differences, 
the English and the Romans essentially resemble one 
another. The early Romans possessed the faculty of self- 
government beyond any people of whom we have histori- 
cal knowledge, with the one exception of ourselves. In 
virtue of their temporal freedom, they became the most 
powerful nation in the known world; and their liberties 
perished only when Rome became the mistress of con- 
quered races to whom she was unable or unwilling to 
extend her privileges. If England was similarly supreme, 
if all rival powers were eclipsed by her or laid under her 
feet, the imperial tendencies, which are as strongly marked 
in us as our love of liberty, might lead us over the same 
course to the same end. If there be one lesson which 
history teaches, it is this, that free nations cannot govern 
subject provinces. If they are unable or unwilling to 
admit their dependencies to share their own constitution, 
the constitution itself will fall in pieces from mere incom- 
petence for its duties. 

We talk often foolishly of the necessities of things, and 
we blame circumstances for the consequences of our own 
follies and vices; but there are faults which are not faults 
of will, but faults of mere inadequacy to some unforeseen 
position. Human nature is equal to much, but not to 
everything. It can rise to altitudes where it is alike 


unable to sustain itself or to retire from them to a safer 
elevation. Yet when the field is open it pushes forward, 
and moderation in the pursuit of greatness is never learnt 
and never will be learnt. Men of genius are governed by 
their instinct; they follow where instinct leads them; and 
the public life of a nation is but the life of successive gen- 
erations of statesmen, whose horizon is bounded, and who 
act from day to day as immediate interests suggest. The 
popular leader of the hour sees some present difficulty or 
present opportunity of distinction. He deals with each 
question as it arises, leaving future consequences to those 
who are to come after him. The situation changes from 
period to period, and tendencies are generated with an 
accelerating force, which, when once established, can never 
be reversed. When the control of reason is once removed, 
the catastrophe is no longer distant, and then nations, like 
all organized creations, all forms of life, from the meanest 
flower to the highest human institution, pass through the 
inevitably recurring stages of growth and transformation 
and decay. A commonwealth, says Cicero, ought to be 
immortal, and forever to renew its youth. Yet common- 
wealths have proved as unenduring as any other natural 


Everything that grows 
Holds in perfection but a little moment, 

And this huge state presenteth nought but shows, 
Whereon the stars in silent influence comment. 

Nevertheless, " As the heavens are high above the earth, 
so is wisdom above folly." Goethe compares life to a 
game at whist, where the cards are dealt out by destiny, 
and the rules of the game are fixed: subject to these condi- 
tions, the players are left to win or lose, according to their 
skill or want of skill. The life of a nation, like the life of 
a man, may be prolonged in honour into the fulness of its 
time, or it may perish prematurely, for want of guidance, 
by violence or internal disorders. And thus the history of 
national revolutions is to statesmanship what the pathol- 
ogy of disease is to the art of medicine. The physician 


cannot arrest the coming on of age. Where disease has 
laid hold upon the constitution he cannot expel it. But 
he may check the progress of the evil if he can recognise 
the symptoms in time. He can save life at the cost of an 
unsound limb. He can tell us how to preserve our health 
when we have it; he can warn us of the conditions under 
which particular disorders will have us at disadvantage. 
And so with nations: amidst the endless variety of circum- 
stances there are constant phenomena which give notice 
of approaching danger; there are courses of action which 
have uniformly produced the same results; and the wise 
politicians are those who have learnt from experience the 
real tendencies of things, unmisled by superficial differ- 
ences — who can shun the rocks where others have been 
wrecked, or from foresight of what is coming can be cool 
when the peril is upon them. 

For these reasons the fall of the Roman Republic is 
exceptionally instructive to us. A constitutional govern- 
ment the most enduring and the most powerful that ever 
existed was put on its trial, and found wanting. We see 
it in its growth; we can see the causes which undermined 
its strength. We see attempts to check the growing mis- 
chief fail, and we see why they failed. And we see, finally, 
when nothing seemed so likely as complete dissolution, 
the whole system changed by a violent operation, and 
the dying patient's life protracted for further centuries of 
power and usefulness. 

Again, irrespective of the direct teaching which we may 
gather from them, particular epochs in history have the 
charm for us which dramas have — periods when the great 
actors on the stage of life stand before us with the distinct- 
ness with which they appear in the creations of a poet. 
There have not been many such periods; for, to see the 
past, it is not enough for us to be able to look at it through 
the eyes of contemporaries; these contemporaries them- 
selves must have been parties to the scenes which they de- 
scribe. They must have had full opportunities of knowl- 
edge. They must have had eyes which could see things 


in their true proportions. They must have had, in ad- 
dition, the rare literary powers which can convey to others 
through the medium of language an exact picture of their 
own minds; and such happy combinations occur but occa- 
sionally in thousands of years. Generation after genera- 
tion passes by, and is crumbled into sand as rocks are 
crumbled by the sea. Each brought with it its heroes and 
its villains, its triumphs and its sorrows; but the history is 
formless legend, incredible and unintelligible; the figures 
of the actors are indistinct as the rude ballad or ruder in- 
scriptions which may be the only authentic record of them. 
We do not see the men and women, we see only the out- 
lines of them which have been woven into tradition as they 
appeared to the loves or hatreds of passionate admirers or 
enemies. Of such times we know nothing, save the broad 
results as they are measured from century to century, with 
here and there some indestructible pebble, some law, some 
fragment of remarkable poetry which has resisted decom- 
position. These periods are the proper subject of the 
philosophic historian, and to him we leave them. But 
there are others, a few, at which intellectual activity was 
as great as it is now, with its written records surviving, 
in which the passions, the opinions, the ambitions of the 
age, are all before us, where the actors in the great drama 
speak their own thoughts in their own words, where we 
hear their enemies denounce them and their friends praise 
them; where we are ourselves plunged amidst the hopes 
and fears of the hour, to feel the conflicting emotions and 
to sympathize in the struggles which again seem to live: 
and here philosophy is at fault. Philosophy, when we are 
face to face with real men, is as powerless as over the Iliad 
or King Lear. The overmastering human interest tran- 
scends explanation. We do not sit in judgment on the 
right or the wrong; we do not seek out causes to account 
for what takes place, feeling too conscious of the inade- 
quacy of our analysis. We see human beings possessed 
by different impulses, and working out a preordained re- 
sult, as the subtle forces drive each along the path marked 


out for him; and history becomes the more impressive to 
us where it least immediately instructs. 

With such vividness, with such transparent clearness the 
age stands before us of Cato and Pompey, of Cicero and 
Julius Caesar; the more distinctly because it was an age in 
so many ways the counterpart of our own, the blossoming 
period of the old civilization, when the intellect was trained 
to the highest point which it could reach, and on the great 
subjects of human interest, on morals and politics, on po- 
etry and art, even on religion itself and the speculative 
problems of life, men thought as we think, doubted where 
we doubt, argued as we argue, aspired and struggled after 
the same objects. It was an age of material progress and 
material civilization; an age of civil liberty and intellectual 
culture; an age of pamphlets and epigrams, of salons and 
of dinner parties, of senatorial majorities and electoral cor- 
ruption. The highest offices of state were open in theory 
to the meanest citizen; they were confined, in fact, to those 
who had the longest purses, or the most ready use of the 
tongue on popular platforms. Distinctions of birth had 
been exchanged for distinctions of wealth. The struggles 
between plebeians and patricians for equality of privilege 
were over, and a new division had been formed between 
the party of property and a party who desired a change in 
the structure of society. The free cultivators were dis- 
appearing from the soil. Italy was being absorbed into 
vast estates, held by a few favoured families and cultivated 
by slaves, while the old agricultural population was driven 
off the land, and was crowded into towns. The rich were 
extravagant, for life had ceased to have practical interest, 
except for its material pleasures; the occupation of the 
higher classes was to obtain money without labour, and to 
spend it in idle enjoyment. Patriotism survived on the 
lips, but patriotism meant the ascendency of the party 
which would maintain the existing order of things, or 
would overthrow it for a more equal distribution of the 
good things which alone were valued. Religion, once the 
foundation of the laws and rule of personal conduct, had 


subsided into opinions. The educated, in their hearts, dis- 
believed it. Temples were still built with increasing splen- 
dour; the established forms were scrupulously observed. 
Public men spoke conventionally of Providence, that 
they might throw on their opponents the odium of 
impiety; but of genuine belief that life had any serious 
meaning, there was none remaining beyond the circle of 
the silent, patient, ignorant multitude. The whole spirit- 
ual atmosphere was saturated with cant — cant moral, cant 
political, cant religious; an affectation of high principle 
which had ceased to touch the conduct, and flowed on in 
an increasing volume of insincere and unreal speech. The 
truest thinkers were those who, like Lucretius, spoke 
frankly out their real convictions, declared that Providence 
was a dream, and that man and the world he lived in were 
material phenomena, generated by natural forces out of 
cosmic atoms, and into atoms to be again resolved. 

Tendencies now in operation may a few generations 
hence land modern society in similar conclusions, unless 
other convictions revive meanwhile and get the mastery of 
them; of which possibility no more may be said than this, 
that unless there be such a revival in some shape or other, 
the forces, whatever they be, which control the forms in 
which human things adjust themselves, will make an end 
again, as they made an end before, of what are called free 
institutions. Popular forms of government are possible 
only when individual men can govern their own lives on 
moral principles, and when duty is of more importance 
than pleasure, and justice than material expediency. 
Rome at any rate had grown ripe for judgment. The 
shape which the judgment assumed was due perhaps, in a 
measure, to a condition which has no longer a parallel 
among us. The men and women by whom the hard work 
of the world was done were chiefly slaves, and those who 
constitute the driving force of revolutions in modern 
Europe lay then outside society, unable and perhaps 
uncaring to affect its fate. No change then possible would 
much influence the prospects of the unhappy bondsmen. 


The triumph of the party of the constitution would bring 
no liberty to them. That their masters should fall like 
themselves under the authority of a higher master could 
not much distress them. Their sympathies, if they had 
any, would go with those nearest their own rank, the 
emancipated slaves and the sons of those who were emanci- 
pated; and they, and the poor free citizens everywhere, 
were to a man on the side which was considered and was 
called the side of " the people," and was, in fact, the side 
of Despotism. 


THE Roman Constitution had grown out of the char- 
acter of the Roman nation. It was popular in 
form beyond all constitutions of which there is any 
record in history. The citizens assembled in the Comitia 
were the sovereign authority in the State, and they exer- 
cised their power immediately and not by representatives. 
The executive magistrates were chosen annually. The 
assembly was the supreme Court of Appeal; and without 
its sanction no freeman could be lawfully put to death. In 
the assembly also was the supreme power of legislation. 
Any consul, any praetor, any tribune, might propose a law 
from the Rostra to the people. The people, if it pleased 
them, might accept such law, and senators and public offi- 
cers might be sworn to obey it under pains of treason. As 
a check on precipitate resolutions, a single consul or a 
single tribune might interpose his veto. But the veto was 
binding only so long as the year of office continued. If 
the people were in earnest, submission to their wishes 
could be made a condition at the next election, and thus 
no constitutional means existed of resisting them when 
these wishes showed themselves. 

In normal times the Senate was allowed the privilege of 
preconsidering intended acts of legislation, and refusing 
to recommend them if inexpedient, but the privilege was 
only converted into a right after violent convulsions, and 
was never able to maintain itself. That under such a sys- 
tem the functions of government could have been carried 
on at all was due entirely to the habits of self-restraint 
which the Romans had engraved into their nature. They 
were called a nation of kings — kings over their own appe- 
tites, passions, and inclinations. They were not imagina- 
tive, they were not intellectual; they had little national 



poetry, little art, little philosophy. They were moral and 
practical. In these two directions the force that was in 
them entirely ran. They were free politically, because 
freedom meant to them, not freedom to do as they pleased, 
but freedom to do what was right; and every citizen, be- 
fore he arrived at his civil privileges, had been schooled in 
the discipline of obedience. Each head of a household 
was absolute master of it, master over his children and 
servants, even to the extent of life and death. What the 
father was to the family, the gods were to the whole peo- 
ple, the awful lords and rulers at whose pleasure they lived 
and breathed. Unlike the Greeks, the reverential Romans 
invented no idle legends about the supernatural world. 
The gods to them were the guardians of the State, whose 
will in all things they were bound to seek and to obey. 
The forms in which they endeavoured to learn what that 
will might be were childish or childlike. They looked to 
signs in the sky, to thunderstorms and comets and shoot- 
ing stars. Birds, winged messengers, as they thought 
them, between earth and heaven, were celestial indicators 
of the gods' commands. But omens and auguries were 
but the outward symbols, and the Romans, like all serious 
peoples, went to their own hearts for their real guidance. 
They had a unique religious peculiarity, to which no race 
of men has produced anything like. They did not embody 
the elemental forces in personal forms; they did not fashion 
a theology out of the movements of the sun and stars or 
the changes of the seasons. Traces may be found among 
them of cosmic traditions and superstitions, which were 
common to all the world; but they added of their own 
this especial feature: that they built temples and offered 
sacrifices to the highest human excellences, to " Val- 
our/' to " Truth," to " Good Faith," to " Modesty," to 
" Charity," to " Concord." In these qualities lay all that 
raised man above the animals with which he had so much 
in common. In them, therefore, were to be found the link 
which connected him with the Divine nature, and moral 
qualities were regarded as Divine influences which gave 


his life its meaning and its worth. The " Virtues " were 
elevated into beings to whom disobedience could be pun- 
ished as a crime, and the superstitious fears which run so 
often into mischievous idolatries were enlisted with con- 
science in the direct service of right action. 

On the same principle the Romans chose the heroes and 
heroines of their national history. The Manlii and Valerii 
were patterns of courage, the Lucretias and Virginias of 
purity, the Decii and Curtii of patriotic devotion, the 
Reguli and Fabricii of stainless truthfulness. On the same 
principle, too, they had a public officer whose functions 
resembled those of the Church courts in mediaeval Europe, 
a Censor Morum, an inquisitor who might examine into 
the habits of private families, rebuke extravagance, check 
luxury, punish vice and self-indulgence, nay, who could 
remove from the Senate, the great council of elders, per- 
sons whose moral conduct was a reproach to a body on 
whose reputation no shadow could be allowed to rest. 

Such the Romans were in the day when their dominion 
had not extended beyond the limits of Italy; and because 
they were such they were able to prosper under a constitu- 
tion which to modern experience would promise only the 
most hopeless confusion. 

Morality thus ingrained in the national character and 
grooved into habits of action creates strength, as nothing 
else creates it. The difficulty of conduct does not lie in 
knowing what it is right to do, but in doing it when 
known. Intellectual culture does not touch the con- 
science. It provides no motives to overcome the weak- 
ness of the will, and with wider knowledge it brings also 
new temptations. The sense of duty is present in each 
detail of life; the obligatory " must," which binds the will 
to the course which right principle has marked out for it, 
produces a fibre like the fibre of the oak. The educated 
Greeks knew little of it. They had courage, and genius, 
and enthusiasm, but they had no horror of immorality as 
such. The Stoics saw what was wanting, and tried to sup- 
ply it; but though they could provide a theory of action, 


they could not make the theory into a reality, and it is 
noticeable that Stoicism as a rule of life became impor- 
tant only when adopted by the Romans. The Catholic 
Church effected something in its better days when it had 
its courts which treated sins as crimes. Calvinism, while 
it was believed, produced characters nobler and grander 
than any which Republican Rome produced. But the 
Catholic Church turned its penances into money pay- 
ments. Calvinism made demands on faith beyond what 
truth could bear, and when doubt had once entered, the 
spell of Calvinism was broken. The veracity of the Ro- 
mans, and perhaps the happy accident that they had no 
inherited religious traditions, saved them for centuries 
from similar trials. They had hold of real truth unalloyed 
with baser metal; and truth had made them free and kept 
them so. When all else has passed away, when theologies 
have yielded up their real meaning, and creeds and symbols 
have become transparent, and man is again in contact with 
the hard facts of nature, it will be found that the " Virtues " 
which the Romans made into gods contain in them the 
essence of true religion, that in them lies the special char- 
acteristic which distinguishes human beings from the rest 
of animated things. Every other creature exists for itself, 
and cares for its own preservation. Nothing larger or 
better is expected from it or possible to it. To man it is 
said, you do not live for yourself. If you live for yourself 
you shall come to nothing. Be brave, be just, be pure, be 
true in word and deed; care not for your enjoyment, care 
not for your life; care only for what is right. So, and 
not otherwise, it shall be well with you. So the Maker 
of you has ordered, whom you will disobey at your 

Thus, and thus only, are nations formed which are des- 
tined to endure; and as habits based on such convictions 
are slow in growing, so when grown to maturity they sur- 
vive extraordinary trials. But nations are made up of 
many persons in circumstances of endless variety. In 
country districts, where the routine of life continues 


simple, the type of character remains unaffected; genera- 
tion follows on generation exposed to the same influences 
and treading in the same steps. But the morality of habit, 
though the most important element in human conduct, is 
still but a part of it. Moral habits grow under given con- 
ditions. They correspond to a given degree of tempta- 
tion. When men are removed into situations where the 
use and wont of their fathers no longer meets their neces- 
sities; where new opportunities are offered to them; where 
their opinions are broken in upon by new ideas; where 
pleasures tempt them on every side, and they have but to 
stretch out their hand to take them; moral habits yield 
under the strain, and they have no other resource to fall 
back upon. Intellectual cultivation brings with it rational 
interests. Knowledge, which looks before and after, acts 
as a restraining power, to help conscience when it flags. 
The sober and wholesome manners of life among the early 
Romans had given them vigorous minds in vigorous 
bodies. The animal nature had grown as strongly as the 
moral nature, and along with it the animal appetites; and 
when appetites burst their traditionary restraints, and man 
in himself has no other notion of enjoyment beyond bodily 
pleasure, he may pass by an easy transition into a mere 
powerful brute. And thus it happened with the higher 
classes at Rome after the destruction of Carthage. Italy 
had fallen to them by natural and wholesome expansion; 
but from being sovereigns of Italy, they became a race of 
imperial conquerors. Suddenly, and in comparatively a 
few years after the one power was gone which could 
resist them, they became the actual or virtual rulers of the 
entire circuit of the Mediterranean. The southeast of 
Spain, the coast of France from the Pyrenees to Nice, the 
north of Italy, Illyria and Greece, Sardinia, Sicily, and the 
Greek islands, the southern and western shores of Asia 
Minor, were Roman provinces, governed directly under 
Roman magistrates. On the African side Mauritania 
(Morocco) was still free. Numidia (the modern Algeria) 
retained its native dynasty, but was a Roman dependency. 


The Carthaginian dominions, Tunis and Tripoli, had been 
annexed to the Empire. The interior of Asia Minor up to 
the Euphrates, with Syria and Egypt, were under sover- 
eigns called Allies, but, like the native princes in India, 
subject to a Roman protectorate. Over this enormous 
territory, rich with the accumulated treasures of centuries, 
and inhabited by thriving, industrious races, the energetic 
Roman men of business had spread and settled themselves, 
gathering into their hands the trade, the financial adminis- 
tration, the entire commercial control of the Mediterra- 
nean basin. They had been trained in thrift and economy, 
in abhorrence of debt, in strictest habits of close and care- 
ful management. Their frugal education, their early les- 
sons in the value of money, good and excellent as those 
lessons were, led them, as a matter of course, to turn to 
account their extraordinary opportunities. Governors 
with their staffs, permanent officials, contractors for the 
revenue, negotiators, bill-brokers, bankers, merchants, 
were scattered everywhere in thousands. Money poured 
in upon them in rolling streams of gold. The largest share 
of the spoils fell to the Senate and the senatorial families. 
The Senate was the permanent Council of State, and was 
the real administrator of the Empire. The Senate had the 
control of the treasury, conducted the public policy, ap- 
pointed from its own ranks the governors of the provinces. 
It was patrician in sentiment, but not necessarily patrician 
in composition. The members of it had virtually been 
elected for life by the people, and were almost entirely 
those who had been quaestors, aediles, praetors, or consuls; 
and these offices had been long open to the plebeians. It 
was an aristocracy, in theory a real one, but tending to 
become, as civilization went forward, an aristocracy of the 
rich. How the senatorial privileges affected the man- 
agement of the provinces will be seen more particularly as 
we go on. It is enough at present to say that the nobles 
and great commoners of Rome rapidly found themselves 
in possession of revenues which their fathers could not 
have imagined in their dreams, and money, in the stage of 


progress at which Rome had arrived, was convertible into 

The opportunities opened for men to advance their for- 
tunes in other parts of the world drained Italy of many of 
its most enterprising citizens. The grandsons of the yeo- 
men who had held at bay Pyrrhus and Hannibal sold their 
farms and went away. The small holdings merged rapidly 
into large estates bought up by the Roman capitalists. At 
the final settlement of Italy, some millions of acres had 
been reserved to the State as public property. The " pub- 
lic land," as the reserved portion was called, had been 
leased on easy terms to families with political influence, 
and by lapse of time, by connivance and right of occupa- 
tion, these families were beginning to regard their tenures 
as their private property, and to treat them as lords of 
manors in England have treated the " commons." Thus 
everywhere the small farmers were disappearing, and the 
soil of Italy was fast passing into the hands of a few terri- 
torial magnates, who, unfortunately (for it tended to 
aggravate the mischief), were enabled by another cause to 
turn their vast possessions to advantage. The conquest 
of the world had turned the flower of the defeated nations 
into slaves. The prisoners taken either after a battle, or 
when cities surrendered unconditionally, were bought up 
steadily by contractors who followed in the rear of the 
Roman armies. They were not ignorant like the negroes, 
but trained, useful, and often educated men, — Asiatics, 
Greeks, Thracians, Gauls, and Spaniards, — able at once to 
turn their hands to some form of skilled labour, either as 
clerks, mechanics, or farm servants. The great land- 
owners might have paused in their purchases had the 
alternative lain before them of letting their lands lie idle 
or of having freemen to cultivate them. It was otherwise 
when a resource so convenient and so abundant was 
opened at their feet. The wealthy Romans bought slaves 
by thousands. Some they employed in their workshops 
in the capital. Some they spread over their plantations, 
covering the country, it might be, with olive gardens and 


vineyards, swelling further the plethoric figures of their 
owners' incomes. It was convenient for the few, but less 
convenient for the Commonwealth. The strength of 
Rome was in her free citizens. Where a family of slaves 
was settled down, a village of freemen had disappeared; 
the material for the legions diminished; the dregs of the 
free population which remained behind crowded into 
Rome, without occupation, except in politics, and with no 
property save in their votes, of course to become the cli- 
ents of the millionaires, and to sell themselves to the high- 
est bidders. With all his wealth there were but two things 
which the Roman noble could buy, — political power and 
luxury, — and in these directions his whole resources were 
expended. The elections, once pure, became matters of 
annual bargain between himself and his supporters. The 
once hardy, abstemious mode of living degenerated into 
grossness and sensuality. 

And his character was assailed simultaneously on an- 
other side with equally mischievous effect. The conquest 
of Greece brought to Rome a taste for knowledge and cul- 
ture; but the culture seldom passed below the surface, and 
knowledge bore but the old fruit which it had borne in 
Eden. The elder Cato used to say that the Romans were 
like their slaves — the less Greek they knew the better they 
were. They had believed in the gods with pious sim- 
plicity. The Greeks introduced them to an Olympus of 
divinities whom the practical Roman found that he must 
either abhor or deny to exist. The " Virtues " which he 
had been taught to reverence had no place among the 
graces of the new theology. Reverence Jupiter he could 
not, and it was easy to persuade him that Jupiter was an 
illusion; that all religions were but the creations of fancy, 
his own among them. Gods there might be, airy beings 
in the deeps of space, engaged like men with their own 
enjoyments; but to suppose that these high spirits fretted 
themselves with the affairs of the puny beings that crawled 
upon the earth was a delusion of vanity. Thus, while mo- 
rality was assailed on one side by extraordinary tempta- 


tions, the religious sanction of it was undermined on the 
other. The Romans ceased to believe, and in losing their 
faith they became as steel becomes when it is demagnet- 
ized: the spiritual quality was gone out of them, and the 
high society of Rome itself became a society of powerful 
animals with an enormous appetite for pleasure. Wealth 
poured in more and more, and luxury grew more un- 
bounded. Palaces sprang up in the city, castles in the 
country, villas at pleasant places by the sea, and parks, and 
fish-ponds, and game preserves, and gardens, and vast 
retinues of servants. When natural pleasures had been 
indulged in to satiety, pleasures which were against nature 
were imported from the East to stimulate the exhausted 
appetite. To make money — money by any means, lawful 
or unlawful — became the universal passion. Even the 
most cultivated patricians were coarse alike in their habits 
and their amusements. They cared for art as dilettanti, 
but no schools either of sculpture or painting were formed 
among themselves. They decorated their porticoes and 
their saloons with the plunder of the East. The stage 
was never more than an artificial taste with them; their 
delight was the delight of barbarians, in spectacles, in ath- 
letic exercises, in horse-races and chariot races, in the 
combats of wild animals in the circus, combats of men 
with beasts on choice occasions, and, as a rare excitement, 
in fights between men and men, when select slaves trained 
as gladiators were matched in pairs to kill each other. 
Moral habits are all-sufficient while they last; but with 
rude, strong natures they are but chains which hold the 
passions prisoners. Let the chain break, and the released 
brute is but the more powerful for evil from the force which 
his constitution has inherited. Money! the cry was still 
money! — money was the one thought from the highest 
senator to the poorest wretch who sold his vote in the 
Comitia. For money judges gave unjust decrees and 
juries gave corrupt verdicts. Governors held their prov- 
inces for one, two, or three years; they went out bankrupt 
from extravagance, they returned with millions for fresh 


riot. To obtain a province was the first ambition of a Ro- 
man noble. The road to it lay through the praetorship 
and the consulship; these offices, therefore, became the 
prizes of the State; and being in the gift of the people, they 
were sought after by means which demoralized alike the 
givers and the receivers. The elections were managed by 
clubs and coteries; and, except on occasions of national 
danger or political excitement, those who spent most 
freely were most certain of success. 

Under these conditions the chief powers in the Com- 
monwealth necessarily centred in the rich. There was no 
longer an aristocracy of birth, still less of virtue. The pa- 
trician families had the start in the race. Great names 
and great possessions came to them by inheritance. But 
the door of promotion was open to all who had the golden 
key. The great commoners bought their way into the 
magistracies. From the magistracies they passed into the 
Senate; and the Roman senator, though in Rome itself 
and in free debate among his colleagues he was handled 
as an ordinary man, when he travelled had the honours of 
a sovereign. The three hundred senators of Rome were 
three hundred princes. They moved about in other coun- 
tries with the rights of legates, at the expense of the prov- 
ince, with their trains of slaves and horses. The proud 
privilege of Roman citizenship was still jealously reserved 
to Rome itself and to a few favoured towns and colonies; 
and a mere subject could maintain no rights against a 
member of the haughty oligarchy which controlled the 
civilized world. Such generally the Roman Republic had 
become, or was tending to become, in the years which 
followed the fall of Carthage, B. C. 146. Public spirit in 
the masses was dead or sleeping; the Commonwealth was a 
plutocracy. The free forms of the constitution were them- 
selves the instruments of corruption. The rich were happy 
in the possession of all that they could desire. The multi- 
tude was kept quiet by the morsels of meat which were 
flung to it when it threatened to be troublesome. The 
seven thousand in Israel, the few who in all states and in 


all times remain pure in the midst of evil, looked on with 
disgust, fearing that any remedy which they might try 
might be worse than the disease. All orders in a society 
may be wise and virtuous, but all cannot be rich. Wealth 
which is used only for idle luxury is always envied, and 
envy soon curdles into hate. It is easy to persuade the 
masses that the good things of this world are unjustly di- 
vided, especially when it happens to be the exact truth. 
It is not easy to set limits to an agitation once set on foot, 
however justly it may have been provoked, when the cry 
for change is at once stimulated by interest and can dis- 
guise its real character under the passionate language of 
patriotism. But it was not to be expected that men of 
noble natures, young men especially whose enthusiasm 
had not been cooled by experience, would sit calmly by 
while their country was going thus headlong to perdition. 
Redemption, if redemption was to be hoped for, could 
come only from free citizens in the country districts whose 
manners and whose minds were still uncontaminated, in 
whom the ancient habits of life still survived, who still be- 
lieved in the gods, who were contented to follow the 
wholesome round of honest labour. The numbers of such 
citizens were fast dwindling away before the omnivorous 
appetite of the rich for territorial aggrandizement. To 
rescue the land from the monopolists, to renovate the old 
independent yeomanry, to prevent the free population of 
Italy, out of which the legions had been formed which had 
built up the Empire, from being pushed out of their places 
and supplanted by foreign slaves — this, if it could be done, 
would restore the purity of the constituency, snatch the 
elections from the control of corruption, and rear up fresh 
generations of peasant soldiers to preserve the liberties and 
the glories which their fathers had won. 


TIBERIUS GRACCHUS was born about the year 
164 B. C. He was one of twelve children, nine of 
whom died in infancy; himself, his brother Caius, 
and his sister Cornelia being the only survivors. His 
family was plebeian, but of high antiquity, his ancestors 
for several generations having held the highest offices in 
the Republic. On the mother's side he was the grandson 
of Scipio Africanus. His father, after a distinguished 
career as a soldier in Spain and Sardinia, had attempted 
reforms at Rome. He had been censor, and in this ca- 
pacity he had ejected disreputable senators from the Curia; 
he had degraded offending Equites; he had rearranged and 
tried to purify the Comitia. But his connections were 
aristocratic. His wife was the daughter of the most illus- 
trious of the Scipios. His own daughter was married to 
the second most famous of them, Scipio Africanus the 
Younger. He had been himself in antagonism with the 
tribunes, and had taken no part at any time in popular 

The father died when Tiberius was still a boy, and the 
two brothers grew up under the care of their mother, a 
noble and gifted lady. They displayed early remarkable 
talents. Tiberius, when old enough, went into the army, 
and served under his brother-in-law in the last Carthagin- 
ian campaign. He was first on the walls of the city in the 
final storm. Ten years later he went to Spain as Quaes- 
tor, where he carried on his father's popularity, and by 
taking the people's side in some questions fell into disa- 
greement with his brother-in-law. His political views had 
perhaps already inclined to change. He was still of an 
age when indignation at oppression calls out a practical 
desire to resist it. On his journey home from Spain he 
witnessed scenes which confirmed his conviction and de- 


20 JULIUS CESAR [ B . c. 164-122 

termined him to throw all his energies into the popular 
cause. His road lay through Tuscany, where he saw the 
large-estate system in full operation — the fields cultivated 
by the slave gangs, the free citizens of the Republic thrust 
away into the towns, aliens and outcasts in their own 
country, without a foot of soil which they could call their 
own. In Tuscany, too, the vast domains of the landlords 
had not even been fairly purchased. They were parcels of 
the ager publicus, land belonging to the State, which, in 
spite of a law forbidding it, the great lords and commoners 
had appropriated and divided among themselves. Five 
hundred acres of State land was the most which by statute 
any one lessee might be allowed to occupy. But the law 
was obsolete or sleeping, and avarice and vanity were 
awake and active. Young Gracchus, in indignant pity, 
resolved to rescue the people's patrimony. He was 
chosen tribune in the year 133. His brave mother and a 
few patricians of the old type encouraged him, and the 
battle of the revolution began. The Senate, as has been 
said, though without direct legislative authority, had been 
allowed the right of reviewing any new schemes which 
were to be submitted to the assembly. The constitutional 
means of preventing tribunes from carrying unwise or un- 
welcome measures lay in a consul's veto, or in the help of 
the College of Augurs, who could declare the auspices 
unfavourable, and so close all public business. These re- 
sources were so awkward that it had been found conven- 
ient to secure beforehand the Senate's approbation, and 
the encroachment, being long submitted to, was passing 
by custom into a rule. But the Senate, eager as it was, 
had not yet succeeded in engrafting the practice into the 
constitution. On the land question the leaders of the 
aristocracy were the principal offenders. Disregarding 
usage, and conscious that the best men of all ranks were 
with him, Tiberius Gracchus appealed directly to the peo- 
ple to revive the Agrarian law. His proposals were not 
extravagant. That they should have been deemed extrav- 
agant was a proof of how much some measure of the kind 

B.C. 164-122] THE GRACCHI 21 

was needed. Where lands had been inclosed and money 
laid out on them he was willing that the occupants should 
have compensation. But they had no right to the lands 
themselves. Gracchus persisted that the ager publicus be- 
longed to the people, and that the race of yeomen, for 
whose protection the law had been originally passed, must 
be re-established on their farms. No form of property 
gives to its owners so much consequence as land, and there 
is no point on which in every country an aristocracy is 
more sensitive. The large owners protested that they had 
purchased their interests on the faith that the law was ob- 
solete. They had planted and built and watered with the 
sanction of the Government, and to call their titles in ques- 
tion was to shake the foundations of society. The popular 
party pointed to the statute. The monopolists were en- 
titled in justice to less than was offered them. They had 
no right to a compensation at all. Political passion awoke 
again after the sleep of a century. The oligarchy had 
doubtless connived at the accumulations. The suppression 
of the small holdings favoured their supremacy, and placed 
the elections more completely in their control. Their mili- 
tary successes had given them so long a tenure of power 
that they had believed it to be theirs in perpetuity; and the 
new sedition, as they called it, threatened at once their 
privileges and their fortunes. The quarrel assumed the 
familiar form of a struggle between the rich and the poor, 
and at such times the mob of voters becomes less easy to 
corrupt. They go with their order, as the prospect of a 
larger gain makes them indifferent to immediate bribes. 
It became clear that the majority of the citizens would 
support Tiberius Gracchus, but the constitutional forms 
of opposition might still be resorted to. Octavius Caecina, 
another of the tribunes, had himself large interests in the 
land question. He was the people's magistrate, one of the 
body appointed especially to defend their rights, but he 
went over to the Senate, and, using a power which un- 
doubtedly belonged to him, he forbade the vote to be 

22 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 164-122 

There was no precedent for the removal of either con- 
sul, praetor, or tribune, except under circumstances very 
different from any which could as yet be said to have 
arisen. The magistrates held office for a year only, and 
the power of veto had been allowed them expressly to 
secure time for deliberation and to prevent passionate 
legislation. But Gracchus was young and enthusiastic. 
Precedent or no precedent, the citizens were omnipotent. 
He invited them to declare his colleague deposed. They 
had warmed to the fight and complied. A more experi- 
enced statesman would have known that established con- 
stitutional bulwarks cannot be swept away by a momen- 
tary vote. He obtained his Agrarian law. Three commis- 
sioners were appointed — himself, his younger brother, and 
his father-in-law, Appius Claudius — to carry it into effect; 
but the very names showed that he had alienated his few 
supporters in the higher circles, and that a single family 
was now contending against the united wealth and distinc- 
tion of Rome. The issue was only too certain. Popular 
enthusiasm is but a fire of straw. In a year Tiberius 
Gracchus would be out of office. Other tribunes would 
be chosen more amenable to influence, and his work would 
then be undone. He evidently knew that those who 
would succeed him could not be relied on to carry on his 
policy. He had taken one revolutionary step already; he 
was driven on to another, and he offered himself illegally 
to the Comitia for re-election. It was to invite them to 
abolish the constitution and to make him virtual sovereign ; 
and that a young man of thirty should have contemplated 
such a position for himself as possible is of itself a proof of 
his unfitness for it. The election day came. The noble 
lords and gentlemen appeared in the Campus Martius with 
their retinues of armed servants and clients; hot-blooded 
aristocrats, full of disdain for demagogues, and meaning 
to read a lesson to sedition which it would not easily for- 
get. Votes were given for Gracchus. Had the hustings 
been left to decide the matter, he would have been chosen; 
but as it began to appear how the polling would go, sticks 

B. c. 164-122] THE GRACCHI 23 

were used and swords; a riot rose, the unarmed citizens 
were driven off, Tiberius Gracchus himself and three hun- 
dred of his friends were killed and their bodies were flung 
into the Tiber. 

Thus the first sparks of the coming revolution were 
trampled out. But though quenched and to be again 
quenched with fiercer struggles, it was to smoulder and 
smoke and burst out time after time, till its work was done. 
Revolution could not restore the ancient character of the 
Roman nation, but it could check the progress of decay 
by burning away the more corrupted parts of it. It could 
destroy the aristocracy and the constitution which they had 
depraved, and under other forms preserve for a few more 
centuries the Roman dominion. Scipio Africanus, when 
he heard in Spain of the end of his brother-in-law, ex- 
claimed " May all who act as he did perish like him!" 
There were to be victims enough and to spare before the 
bloody drama was played out. Quiet lasted for ten years, 
and then, precisely when he had reached his brother's age, 
Caius Gracchus came forward to avenge him, and carry 
the movement through another stage. Young Caius had 
been left one of the commissioners of the land law; and it 
is particularly noticeable that, though the author of it had 
been killed, the law had survived him, being too clearly 
right and politic in itself to be openly set aside. For two 
years the commissioners had continued to work, and in 
that time forty thousand families were settled on various 
parts of the ager publicus, which the patricians had been 
compelled to resign. This was all which they could do. 
The displacement of one set of inhabitants and the intro- 
duction of another could not be accomplished without 
quarrels, complaints, and perhaps some injustice. Those 
who were ejected were always exasperated. Those who 
entered on possession were not always satisfied. The com- 
missioners became unpopular. When the cries against 
them became loud enough they were suspended, and the 
law was then quietly repealed. The Senate had regained 
its hold over the assembly, and had a further opportunity 

24 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 164-122 

of showing its recovered ascendency when, two years after 
the murder of Tiberius Gracchus, one of his friends intro- 
duced a bill to make the tribunes legally re-eligible. Caius 
Gracchus actively supported the change, but it had no suc- 
cess; and, waiting till times had altered, and till he had ar- 
rived himself at an age when he could carry weight, the 
young brother retired from politics, and spent the next 
few years with the army in Africa and Sardinia. He 
served with distinction; he made a name for himself, both 
as a soldier and an administrator. Had the Senate left 
him alone, he might have been satisfied with a regular 
career, and have risen by the ordinary steps to the consul- 
ship. But the Senate saw in him the possibilities of a 
second Tiberius; the higher his reputation, the more for- 
midable he became to them. They vexed him with petty 
prosecutions, charged him with crimes which had no ex- 
istence, and at length by suspicion and injustice drove him 
into open war with them. Caius Gracchus had a broader 
intellect than his brother, and a character considerably less 
noble. The land question he perceived was but one of 
many questions. The true source of the disorders of the 
Commonwealth was the Senate itself. The administra- 
tion of the Empire was in the hands of men totally unfit 
to be trusted with it, and there he thought the reform must 
commence. He threw himself on the people. He was 
chosen tribune in 123, ten years exactly after Tiberius. 
He had studied the disposition of parties. He had seen 
his brother fall because the Equites and the senators, the 
great commoners and the nobles, were combined against 
him. He revived the Agrarian law as a matter of course, 
but he disarmed the opposition to it by throwing an apple 
of discord between the two superior orders. The high 
judicial functions in the Commonwealth had been hitherto 
a senatorial monopoly. All cases of importance, civic or 
criminal, came before courts of sixty or seventy jurymen, 
who, as the law stood, must be necessarily senators. The 
privilege had been extremely lucrative. The corruption 
of justice was already notorious, though it had not yet 

B. c. 164-122] THE GRACCHI 25 

reached the level of infamy which it attained in another 
generation. It was no secret that in ordinary causes jury- 
men had sold their verdicts; and far short of taking bribes 
in the direct sense of the word, there were many ways in 
which they could let themselves be approached, and their 
favour purchased. A monopoly of privileges is always 
invidious. A monopoly in the sale of justice is alike hate- 
ful to those who abhor iniquity on principle and to those 
who would like to share the profits of it. But this was 
not the worst. The governors of the provinces, being 
chosen from those who had been consuls or praetors, were 
necessarily members of the Senate. Peculation and ex- 
tortion in these high functions were offences in theory of 
the gravest kind; but the offender could only be tried 
before a limited number of his peers, and a governor who 
had plundered a subject state, sold justice, pillaged tem- 
ples, and stolen all that he could lay hands on, was safe 
from punishment if he returned to Rome a millionaire and 
would admit others to a share in his spoils. The provin- 
cials might send deputations to complain, but these com- 
plaints came before men who had themselves governed 
provinces or else aspired to govern them. It had been 
proved in too many instances that the law which professed 
to protect them was a mere mockery. 

Caius Gracchus secured the affections of the knights to 
himself, and some slightly increased chance of an improve- 
ment in the provincial administration, by carrying a law 
in the assembly disabling the senators from sitting on 
juries of any kind from that day forward, and transferring 
the judicial functions to the Equites. How bitterly must 
such a measure have been resented by the Senate, which at 
once robbed them of their protective and profitable privi- 
leges, handed them over to be tried by their rivals for their 
pleasant irregularities, and stamped them at the same time 
with the brand of dishonesty! How certainly must such 
a measure have been deserved when neither consul nor 
tribune could be found to interpose his vote! Supported 
by the grateful knights, Caius Gracchus was for the mo- 

26 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 164-122 

ment all-powerful. It was not enough to restore the 
Agrarian law. He passed another aimed at his brother's 
murderers, which was to bear fruit in later years, that no 
Roman citizen might be put to death by any person, how- 
ever high in authority, without legal trial, and without ap- 
peal, if he chose to make it, to the sovereign people. A 
blow was thus struck against another right claimed by the 
Senate, of declaring the Republic in danger, and the tem- 
porary suspension of the constitution. These measures 
might be excused, and perhaps commended; but the 
younger Gracchus connected his name with another 
change less commendable, which was destined also to sur- 
vive and bear fruit. He brought forward and carried 
through, with enthusiastic clapping of every pair of hands 
in Rome that were hardened with labour, a proposal that 
there should be public granaries in the city, maintained 
and filled at the cost of the State, and that corn should be 
sold at a rate artificially cheap to the poor free citizens. 
Such a law was purely socialistic. The privilege was con- 
fined to Rome, because in Rome the elections were held, 
and the Roman constituency was the one depository of 
power. The effect was to gather into the city a mob of 
needy, unemployed voters, living on the charity of the 
State, to crowd the circus and to clamour at the elections, 
available no doubt immediately to strengthen the hands of 
the popular tribune, but certain in the long run to sell 
themselves to those who could bid highest for their voices. 
Excuses could be found, no doubt, for this miserable ex- 
pedient, in the state of parties, in the unscrupulous vio- 
lence of the aristocracy, in the general impoverishment of 
the peasantry through the land monopoly, and in the in- 
trusion upon Italy of a gigantic system of slave labour. 
But none the less it was the deadliest blow which had yet 
been dealt to the constitution. Party government turns 
on the majorities at the polling places, and it was difficult 
afterwards to recall a privilege which, once conceded, ap- 
peared to be a right. The utmost that could be ventured 
in later times with any prospect of success was to limit an 

b. c. 164-122] THE GRACCHI 27 

intolerable evil; and if one side was ever strong enough to 
make the attempt, their rivals had a bribe ready in their 
hands to buy back the popular support. Caius Gracchus, 
however, had his way, and carried all before him. He 
escaped the rock on which his brother had been wrecked. 
He was elected tribune a second time. He might have 
had a third term if he had been contented to be a mere 
demagogue. But he, too, like Tiberius, had honourable 
aims. The powers which he had played into the hands of 
the mob to obtain, he desired to use for high purposes of 
statesmanship, and his instrument broke in his hands. He 
was too wise to suppose that a Roman mob, fed by boun- 
ties from the treasury, could permanently govern the 
world. He had schemes for scattering Roman colonies, 
with the Roman franchise, at various points of the Empire. 
Carthage was to be one of them. He thought of abolish- 
ing the distinction between Romans and Italians and en- 
franchising the entire peninsula. These measures were 
good in themselves — essential, indeed, if the Roman con- 
quests were to form a compact and permanent dominion. 
But the object was not attainable on the road on which 
Gracchus had entered. The vagabond part of the con- 
stituency was well contented with what it had obtained: a 
life in the city, supported at the public expense, with poli- 
tics and games for its amusements. It had not the least 
inclination to be drafted off into settlements in Spain or 
Africa, where there would be work instead of pleasant idle- 
ness. Carthage was still a name of terror. To restore 
Carthage was no better than treason. Still less had the 
Roman citizens an inclination to share their privileges with 
Samnites and Etruscans, and see the value of their votes 
watered down. Political storms are always cyclones. 
The gale from the east to-day is a gale from the west to- 
morrow. Who and what were the Gracchi then? — the 
sweet voices began to ask — ambitious intriguers, aiming 
at dictatorship, or perhaps the crown. The aristocracy 
were right after all; a few things had gone wrong, but 
these had been amended. The Scipios and Metelli had 

28 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 164-122 

conquered the world: the Scipios and Metelli were alone 
fit to govern it. Thus when the election time came round, 
the party of reform was reduced to a minority of irrecon- 
cilable radicals, who were easily disposed of. Again, as ten 
years before, the noble lords armed their followers. Riots 
broke out and extended day after day. Caius Gracchus 
was at last killed, as his brother had been, and under cover 
of the disturbance three thousand of his friends were 
killed along with him. The power being again securely 
in their hands, the Senate proceeded at their leisure, and 
the surviving patriots who were in any way notorious or 
dangerous were hunted down in legal manner and put to 
death or banished. 


CAIUS GRACCHUS was killed at the close of the 
year 122. The storm was over. The Senate was 
once more master of the situation, and the opti- 
mates, " the best party in the State/' as they were pleased 
to call themselves, smoothed their ruffled plumes and set- 
tled again into their places. There was no more talk of 
reform. Of the Gracchi there remained nothing but the 
forty thousand peasant proprietors settled on the public 
lands; the Jury law, which could not be at once repealed 
for fear of the Equites; the corn grants, and the mob at- 
tracted by the bounty, which could be managed by im- 
proved manipulation, and the law protecting the lives of 
Roman citizens, which survived in the statute book, 
although the Senate still claimed the right to set it aside 
when they held the State to be in danger. With these ex- 
ceptions, the administration fell back into its old condition. 
The tribunes ceased to agitate. The consulships and the 
prsetorships fell to the candidates whom the Senate sup- 
ported. Whether the oligarchy had learnt any lessons of 
caution from the brief political earthquake which had 
shaken but not overthrown them, remained to be seen. 
Six years after the murder of Caius Gracchus an oppor- 
tunity was afforded to this distinguished body of showing 
on a conspicuous scale the material of which they were 
now composed. 

Along the south shore of the Mediterranean, west of the 
Roman province, extended the two kingdoms of the Nu- 
midians and the Moors. To what race these people be- 
longed is not precisely known. They were not Negroes. 
The Negro tribes have never extended north of the 
Sahara. Nor were they Carthaginians, or allied to the 
Carthaginians. The Carthaginian colony found them in 
possession on its arrival. Sallust says that they were Per- 


30 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 

sians left behind by Hercules after his invasion of Spain. 
Sallust's evidence proves no more than that their appear- 
ance was Asiatic, and that tradition assigned them an 
Asiatic origin. They may be called generically Arabs, 
who at a very ancient time had spread along the coast from 
Egypt to Morocco. The Numidians at this period were 
civilized, according to the manners of the age. They had 
walled towns; they had considerable wealth; their lands 
were extensively watered and cultivated; their great men 
had country houses and villas, the surest sign of a settled 
state of society. Among the equipments of their army 
they had numerous elephants (it may be presumed of the 
African breed), which they and the Carthaginians had cer- 
tainly succeeded in domesticating. Masinissa, the king of 
this people, had been the ally of Rome in the last Cartha- 
ginian war; he had been afterwards received as " a friend 
of the Republic," and was one of the protected sovereigns. 
He was succeeded by his son Micipsa, who in turn had 
two legitimate children, Hiempsal and Adherbal, and an 
illegitimate nephew Jugurtha, considerably older than his 
own boys, a young man of striking talent and promise. 
Micipsa, who was advanced in years, was afraid that if he 
died this brilliant youth might be a dangerous rival to his 
sons. He therefore sent him to serve under Scipio in 
Spain, with the hope, so his friends asserted, that he might 
there perhaps be killed. The Roman army was then en- 
gaged in the siege of Numantia. The camp was the 
lounging place of the young patricians who were tired of 
Rome and wished for excitement. Discipline had fallen 
loose; the officers' quarters were the scene of extravagance 
and amusement. Jugurtha recommended himself on the 
one side to Scipio by activity and good service, while on 
the other he made acquaintances among the high-bred 
gentlemen in the mess-rooms. He found them in them- 
selves dissolute and unscrupulous. He discovered, 
through communications, which he was able with their 
assistance to open with their fathers and relatives at Rome, 
that a man with money might do what he pleased. 

B. c. JUGURTHA 31 

Micipsa's treasury was well supplied, and Jugurtha hinted 
among his comrades that, if he could be secure of counte- 
nance in seizing the kingdom, he would be in a position 
to show his gratitude in a substantial manner. Some of 
these conversations reached the ears of Scipio, who sent 
for Jugurtha and gave him a friendly warning. He dis- 
missed him, however, with honour at the end of the cam- 
paign. The young prince returned to Africa, loaded with 
distinctions, and the king, being now afraid to pass him 
over, named him as joint-heir with his children to a third 
part of Numidia. The Numidians perhaps objected to be- 
ing partitioned. Micipsa died soon after. Jugurtha at 
once murdered Hiempsal, claimed the sovereignty, and 
attacked his other cousin. Adherbal, closely besieged in 
the town of Cirta, which remained faithful to him, ap- 
pealed to Rome; but Jugurtha had already prepared his 
ground, and knew that he had nothing to fear. The Sen- 
ate sent out commissioners. The commissioners received 
the bribes which they expected. They gave Jugurtha 
general instructions to leave his cousin in peace; but they 
did not wait to see their orders obeyed, and went quietly 
home. The natural results immediately followed. Ju- 
gurtha pressed the siege more resolutely. The town sur- 
rendered, Adherbal was taken, and was put to death after 
being savagely tortured; and there being no longer any 
competitor alive in whose behalf the Senate could be 
called on to interfere, he thought himself safe from further 
interference. Unfortunately, in the capture of Cirta a 
number of Romans who resided there had been killed after 
the surrender, and after a promise that their lives should 
be spared. An outcry was raised in Rome, and became 
so loud that the Senate was forced to promise investiga- 
tion; but it went to work languidly, with reluctance so 
evident as to rouse suspicion. Notwithstanding the fate 
of the Gracchi and their friends, Memmius, a tribune, was 
found bold enough to tell the people that there were men 
in the Senate who had taken bribes. 

The Senate, conscious of its guilt, was now obliged to 


exert itself. War was declared against Jugurtha, and a 
consul was sent to Africa with an army. But the consul, 
too, had his fortune to make, and Micipsa's treasures were 
still unexpended. The consul took with him a staff of 
young patricians, whose families might be counted on to 
shield him in return for a share of the plunder. Jugurtha 
was as liberal as avarice could desire, and peace was 
granted to him on the easy conditions of a nominal fine, 
and the surrender of some elephants, which the consul pri- 
vately restored. 

Public opinion was singularly patient. The massacre 
six years before had killed out the liberal leaders, and there 
was no desire on any side as yet to renew the struggle with 
the Senate. But it was possible to presume too far on 
popular acquiescence. Memmius came forward again, and 
in a passionate speech in the Forum exposed and de- 
nounced the scandalous transaction. The political sky be- 
gan to blacken again. The Senate could not face another 
storm with so bad a cause, and Jugurtha was sent for to 
Rome. He came, with contemptuous confidence, loaded 
with gold. He could not corrupt Memmius, but he 
bought easily the rest of the tribunes. The leaders in the 
Curia could not quarrel with a client of such delightful 
liberality. He had an answer to every complaint, and a 
fee to silence the complainer. He would have gone back 
in triumph, had he not presumed a little too far. He had 
another cousin in the city who he feared might one day 
give him trouble, so he employed one of his suite to poison 
him. The murder was accomplished successfully; and for 
this too he might no doubt have secured his pardon by 
paying for it; but the price demanded was too high, and 
perhaps Jugurtha, villain as he was, came at last to disdain 
the wretches whom he might consider fairly to be worse 
than himself. He had come over under a safe conduct, 
and he was not detained. The Senate ordered him to 
leave Italy; and he departed with the scornful phrase on 
his lips which has passed into history: " Venal city, and 
soon to perish if only it can find a purchaser." 1 

B. C. 122-106] JUGURTHA 33 

A second army was sent across, to end the scandal. 
This time the Senate was in earnest, but the work was less 
easy than was expected. Army management had fallen 
into disorder. In earlier times each Roman citizen had 
provided his own equipments at his own expense. To be 
a soldier was part of the business of his life, and military 
training was an essential feature of his education. The 
old system had broken down; the peasantry, from whom 
the rank and file of the legions had been recruited, were no 
longer able to furnish their own arms. Caius Gracchus 
had intended that arms should be furnished by the govern- 
ment; that a special department should be constituted to 
take charge of the arsenals, and to see to the distribution. 
But Gracchus was dead, and his project had died with him. 
When the legions were enrolled, the men were ill armed, 
undrilled, and unprovided — a mere mob, gathered hastily 
together and ignorant of the first elements of their duty. 
With the officers it was still worse. The subordinate com- 
mands fell to young patricians, carpet knights, who went 
on campaigns with their families of slaves. The generals, 
when a movement was to be made, looked for instruction 
to their staff. It sometimes happened that a consul waited 
for his election to open for the first time a book of military 
history or a Greek manual of the art of war. 2 

An army so composed and so led was not likely to pros- 
per. The Numidians were not very formidable enemies, 
but after a month or two of manoeuvring, half the Romans 
were destroyed, and the remainder were obliged to sur- 
render. About the same time, and from similar causes, 
two Roman armies were cut to pieces on the Rhone. 
While the great men at Rome were building palaces, in- 
venting new dishes, and hiring cooks at unheard-of sala- 
ries, the barbarians were at the gates of Italy. The passes 
of the Alps were open, and if a few tribes of Gauls had 
cared to pour through them the Empire was at their 

Stung with these accumulating disgraces and now really 
alarmed, the Senate sent Csecilius Metellus, the best man 

34 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 122-106 

that they had and the consul for the year following, to 
Africa. Metellus was an aristocrat, and he was advanced 
in years; but he was a man of honour and integrity. He 
understood the danger of further failure; and he looked 
about for the ablest soldier that he could find to go with 
him, irrespective of his political opinions. 

Caius Marius was at this time forty-eight years old. 
Two-thirds of his life were over, and a name which was to 
sound throughout the world and be remembered through 
all ages, had as yet been scarcely heard of beyond the army 
and the political clubs in Rome. He was born at Arpi- 
num, a Latin township, seventy miles from the capital, in 
the year 157. His father was a small farmer, and he was 
himself bred to the plough. He joined the army early, 
and soon attracted notice by his punctual discharge of his 
duties. In a time of growing looseness, Marius was strict 
himself in keeping discipline and in enforcing it as he rose 
in the service. He was in Spain when Jugurtha was there, 
and made himself especially useful to Scipio; he forced his 
way steadily upwards, by his mere soldierlike qualities, to 
the rank of military tribune. Rome, too, had learnt to 
know him, for he was chosen tribune of the people the 
year after the murder of Caius Gracchus. Being a self- 
made man, he belonged naturally to the popular party. 
While in office he gave offence in some way to the men in 
power, and was called before the Senate to answer for 
himself. But he had the right on his side, it is likely, for 
they found him stubborn and impertinent, and they could 
make nothing of their charges against him. He was not 
bidding at this time, however, for the support of the mob. 
He had the integrity and sense to oppose the largesses of 
corn; and he forfeited his popularity by trying to close the 
public granaries before the practice had passed into a sys- 
tem. He seemed as if made of a block of hard Roman 
oak, gnarled and knotted, but sound in all its fibres. His 
professional merit continued to recommend him. At the 
age of forty he became praetor, and was sent to Spain, 
where he left a mark again by the successful severity by 

B. c. 122-106] MARIUS 35 

which he cleared the province of banditti. He was a man 
neither given himself to talking, nor much talked about 
in the world; but he was sought for wherever work was to 
be done, and he had made himself respected and valued in 
high circles, for after his return from the Peninsula he had 
married into one of the most distinguished of the patrician 

The Caesars were a branch of the Gens Julia, which 
claimed descent from lulus the son of iEneas, and thus 
from the gods. Roman etymologists could arrive at no 
conclusion as to the origin of the name. Some derived it 
from an exploit on an elephant hunt in Africa — Caesar 
meaning elephant in Moorish; some to the entrance into 
the world of the first eminent Caesar by the aid of a sur- 
geon's knife; 3 some from the color of the eyes prevailing 
in the family. Be the explanation what it might, eight 
generations of Caesars had held prominent positions in the 
Commonwealth. They had been consuls, censors, prae- 
tors, aediles, and military tribunes, and in politics, as might 
be expected from their position, they had been moderate 
aristocrats. Like other families, they had been sub- 
divided, and the links connecting them cannot always be 
traced. The pedigree of the Dictator goes no further than 
to his grandfather, Caius Julius. In the middle of the sec- 
ond century before Christ, this Caius Julius, being other- 
wise unknown to history, married a lady named Marcia, 
supposed to be descended from Ancus Marcius, the fourth 
king of Rome. By her he had three children, Caius Julius, 
Sextus Julius, and a daughter named Julia. Caius Julius 
married Aurelia, perhaps a member of the consular family 
of the Cottas, and was the father of the Great Caesar. Julia 
became the wife of Caius Marius, a mesalliance, which im- 
plied the beginning of a political split in the Caesar family. 
The elder branches, like the Cromwells of Hinchinbrook, 
remained by their order. The younger attached itself for 
good or ill to the party of the people. 

Marius by this marriage became a person of social con- 
sideration. His father had been a client of the Metelli; 

36 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 122-106 

and Cheilitis Metellus, who must have known Marius by 
reputation and probably in person, invited him to go as 
second in command in the African campaign. He was 
moderately successful. Towns were taken; battles were 
won: Metellus was incorruptible, and the Numidians sued 
for peace. But Jugurtha wanted terms, and the consul de- 
manded unconditional surrender. Jugurtha withdrew into 
the desert; the war dragged on; and Marius, perhaps ambi- 
tious, perhaps impatient at the general's want of vigour, be- 
gan to think that he could make quicker work of it. The 
popular party were stirring again in Rome, the Senate hav- 
ing so notoriously disgraced itself. There was just irrita- 
tion that a petty African prince could defy the whole 
power of Rome for so many years; and though a demo- 
cratic consul had been unheard of for a century, the name 
of Marius began to be spoken of as a possible candidate. 
Marius consented to stand. The law required that he 
must be present in person at the election, and he applied 
to his commander for leave of absence. Metellus laughed 
at his pretensions, and bade him wait another twenty years. 
Marius, however, persisted, and was allowed to go. The 
patricians strained their resources to defeat him, but he 
was chosen with enthusiasm. Metellus was recalled, and 
the conduct of the Numidian war was assigned to the new 
hero of the " Populares." 

A shudder of alarm ran, no doubt, through the senate 
house, when the determination of the people was known. 
A successful general could not be disposed of so easily as 
oratorical tribunes. Fortunately, Marius was not a poli- 
tician. He had no belief in democracy. He was a sol- 
dier, and had a soldier's way of thinking on government 
and the methods of it. His first step was a reformation 
in the army. Hitherto the Roman legions had been no 
more than the citizens in arms, called for the moment from 
their various occupations, to return to them when the oc- 
casion for their services was past. Marius had perceived 
that fewer men, better trained and disciplined, could be 
made more effective and be more easily handled. He had 

B. c. 122-106] MARIUS 37 

studied war as a science. He had perceived that the pres- 
ent weakness need be no more than an accident, and that 
there was a latent force in the Roman State which needed 
only organization to resume its ascendency. " He en- 
listed," it is said, " the worst of the citizens," men, that is 
to say, who had no occupation, and who became soldiers 
by profession; and as persons without property could not 
have furnished themselves at their own cost, he must have 
carried out the scheme proposed by Gracchus, and 
equipped them at the expense of the State. His discipline 
was of the sternest. The experiment was new; and men of 
rank who had a taste for war in earnest, and did not wish 
that the popular party should have the whole benefit and 
credit of the improvements, were willing to go with him; 
among them a dissipated young patrician, called Lucius 
Sylla, whose name also was destined to be memorable. 

By these methods and out of these materials an army 
was formed such as no Roman general had hitherto led. 
It performed extraordinary marches, carried its water sup- 
plies with it in skins, and followed the enemy across sandy 
deserts hitherto found impassable. In less than two years 
the war was over. The Moors, to whom Jugurtha had 
fled, surrendered him to Sylla; and he was brought in 
chains to Rome, where he finished his life in a dungeon. 

So ended a curious episode in Roman history, where it 
holds a place beyond its intrinsic importance, from the 
light which it throws on the character of the Senate and 
on the practical working of the institutions which the 
Gracchi had perished in unsuccessfully attempting to 


1 Page 32. "Urbem venalem, et mature perituram, si emptorem 
invenerit." Sallust, " De Bello Jugurthino," c. 35. Livy's account of 
the business, however, differs from Sallust's, and the expression is per- 
haps not authentic. 

2 Page 33. " At ego scio, Quirites, qui, postquam consules facti sunt, 
acta majorum, et Graecorum militaria praecepta legere cceperint: 
Homines prseposteri! "—Speech of Marius, Sallust, " Jugurtha," 85. 

3 Page 35. " Caesus ab utero matris." 


THE Jugurthine war ended in the year 106 B. C. 
At the same Arpinum, which had produced 
Marius, another actor in the approaching drama 
was in that year ushered into the world, Marcus Tullius 
Cicero. The Ciceros had made their names, and perhaps 
their fortunes, by their skill in raising cicer or vetches. 
The present representative of the family was a country 
gentleman in good circumstances, given to literature, re- 
siding habitually at his estate on the Liris and paying 
occasional visits to Rome. In that household was born 
Rome's most eloquent master of the art of using words, 
who was to carry that art as far, and to do as much with 
it, as any man who has ever appeared on the world's stage. 
Rome, however, was for the present in the face of ene- 
mies who had to be encountered with more material weap- 
ons. Marius had formed an army barely in time to save 
Italy from being totally overwhelmed. A vast migratory 
wave of population had been set in motion behind the 
Rhine and the Danube. The German forests were uncul- 
tivated. The hunting and pasture grounds were too strait 
for the numbers crowded into them, and two enormous 
hordes were rolling westward and southward in search of 
some new abiding place. The Teutons came from the 
Baltic down across the Rhine into Luxemburg. The 
Cimbri crossed the Danube near its sources into Illyria. 
Both Teutons and Cimbri were Germans, and both were 
making for Gaul by different routes. The Celts of Gaul 
had had their day. In past generations they had held the 
German invaders at bay, and had even followed them into 
their own territories. But they had split among them- 
selves. They no longer offered a common front to the 
enemy. They were ceasing to be able to maintain their 


B. c. 106-100] THE CIMBRI AND TEUTONS 39 

own independence, and the question of the future was 
whether Gaul was to be the prey of Germany or to be a 
province of Rome. 

Events appeared already to have decided. The invasion 
of the Teutons and the Cimbri was like the pouring in of 
two great rivers. Each division consisted of hundreds of 
thousands. They travelled, with their wives and children, 
their wagons, as with the ancient Scythians and with the 
modern South African Dutch, being at once their convey- 
ance and their home. Gray-haired priestesses tramped 
along among them, barefooted, in white linen dresses, the 
knife at their girdle; northern Iphigenias, sacrificing pris- 
oners as they were taken to the gods of Valhalla. On they 
swept, eating up the country, and the people flying before 
them. In 113 B. C. the skirts of the Cimbri had encoun- 
tered a small Roman force near Trieste, and destroyed it. 
Four years later another attempt was made to stop them, 
but the Roman army was beaten and its camp taken. The 
Cimbrian host did not, however, turn at that time upon 
Italy. Their aim was the south of France. They made 
their way through the Alps into Switzerland, where the 
Helvetii joined them, and the united mass rolled over the 
Jura and down the bank of the Rhone. Roused at last 
into the exertion, the Senate sent into Gaul the largest 
force which the Romans had ever brought into the field. 
They met the Cimbri at Orange, and were simply annihi- 
lated. Eighty thousand Romans and forty thousand camp 
followers were said to have fallen. The numbers in such 
cases are generally exaggerated, but the extravagance of 
the report is a witness to the greatness of the overthrow. 
The Romans had received a worse blow than at Cannae. 
They were brave enough, but they were commanded by 
persons whose recommendations for command were birth 
or fortune; " preposterous men," as Marius termed them, 
who had waited for their appointment to open the military 

Had the Cimbri chosen at this moment to recross the 
Alps into Italy, they had only to go and take possession, 

40 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 106-100 

and Alaric would have been antedated by five centuries. 
In great danger it was the Senate's business to suspend 
the constitution. The constitution was set aside now, but 
it was set aside by the people themselves, not by the Sen- 
ate. One man only could save the country, and that man 
was Marius. His consulship was over, and custom for- 
bade his re-election. The Senate might have appointed 
him Dictator, but would not. The people, custom or no 
custom, chose him consul a second time — a significant 
acknowledgment that the Empire, which had been won 
by the sword, must be held by the sword, and that the 
sword itself must be held by the hand that was best fitted 
to use it. Marius first triumphed for his African victory, 
and, as an intimation to the Senate that the power for the 
moment was his and not theirs, he entered the Curia in 
his triumphal dress. He then prepared for the barbarians 
who, to the alarmed imagination of the city, were already 
knocking at its gates. Time was the important element 
in the matter. Had the Cimbri come at once after their 
victory at Orange, Italy had been theirs. But they did 
not come. With the unguided movements of some wild 
force of nature they swerved away through Aquitaine to 
the Pyrenees. They swept across the mountains into 
Spain. Thence, turning north, they passed up the Atlan- 
tic coast and round to the Seine, the Gauls flying before 
them; thence on to the Rhine, where the vast body of the 
Teutons joined them and fresh detachments of the Hel- 
vetii. It was as if some vast tidal wave had surged over 
the country and rolled through it, searching out the 
easiest passages. At length, in two divisions, the 
invaders moved definitely towards Italy, the Cimbri 
following their old tracks by the Eastern Alps to- 
wards Aquileia and the Adriatic, the Teutons pass- 
ing down through Provence, and making for the 
road along the Mediterranean. Two years had been 
consumed in these wanderings, and Marius was by this 
time ready for them. The Senate had dropped the reins, 
and no longer governed or misgoverned; the popular 

B. c. 106-100] THE CIMBRI AND TEUTONS 41 

party, represented by the army, was supreme. Marius was 
continued in office, and was a fourth time consul. He had 
completed his military reforms, and the army was now a 
professional service, with regular pay. Trained corps of 
engineers were attached to each legion. The campaigns 
of the Romans were thenceforward to be conducted with 
spade and pickaxe as much as with the sword and javelin, 
and the soldiers learnt the use of tools as well as arms. 
Moral discipline was not forgotten. The foulest of human 
vices was growing fashionable in high society in the capi- 
tal. It was not allowed to make its way into the army. 
An officer in one of the legions, a near relative of Marius, 
made filthy overtures to one of his men. The man replied 
with a thrust of his sword, and Marius publicly thanked 
and decorated him. 

The effect of the change was like enchantment. The 
delay of the Germans made it unnecessary to wait for them 
in Italy. Leaving Catulus, his colleague in the consul- 
ship, to check the Cimbri in Venetia, Marius went himself, 
taking Sylla with him, into the south of France. As the 
barbarian host came on, he occupied a fortified camp near 
Aix. He allowed the enormous procession to roll past him 
in their wagons towards the Alps. Then, following cau- 
tiously, he watched his opportunity to fall on them. The 
Teutons were brave, but they had no longer mere legion- 
aries to fight with, but a powerful machine, and the entire 
mass of them, men, women, and children, in numbers 
which, however uncertain, were rather those of a nation 
than an army, were swept out of existence. 

The Teutons were destroyed on the 20th of July, 102. 
In the year following the same fate overtook their com- 
rades. The Cimbri had forced the passes through the 
mountains. They had beaten the unscientific patrician 
Catulus, and had driven him back on the Po. But Marius 
came to his rescue. The Cimbri were cut to pieces near 
Mantua, in the summer of 101, and Italy was saved. 

The victories of Marius mark a new epoch in Roman 
history. The legions were no longer the levy of the citi- 

42 JULIUS CiESAR [ B . c. 106-100 

zens in arms, who were themselves the State for which 
they fought. The legionaries were citizens still. They 
had votes, and they used them; but they were professional 
soldiers with the modes of thought which belong to sol- 
diers; and beside, the power of the hustings was now the 
power of the sword. The constitution remained to appear- 
ance intact, and means were devised sufficient to en- 
counter, it might be supposed, the new danger. Standing 
armies were prohibited in Italy. Victorious generals re- 
turning from campaigns abroad were required to disband 
their legions on entering the sacred soil. But the ma- 
terials of these legions remained a distinct order from the 
rest of the population, capable of instant combination, and 
in combination irresistible, save by opposing combinations 
of the same kind. The Senate might continue to debate, 
the Comitia might elect the annual magistrates. The es- 
tablished institutions preserved the form and something 
of the reality of power in a people governed so much by 
habit as the Romans. There is a long twilight between 
the time when a god is first suspected to be an idol and his 
final overthrow. But the aristocracy had made the first 
inroad on the constitution by interfering at the elections 
with their armed followers and killing their antagonists. 
The example once set could not fail to be repeated, and 
the rule of an organized force was becoming the only pos- 
sible protection against the rule of mobs, patrician or 

The danger from the Germans was no sooner gone than 
political anarchy broke loose again. Marius, the man of 
the people, was the saviour of his country. He was made 
consul a fifth time, and a sixth. The party which had 
given him his command shared, of course, in his pre-emi- 
nence. The elections could be no longer interfered with 
or the voters intimidated. The public offices were filled 
with the most violent agitators, who believed that the time 
had come to revenge the Gracchi, and carry out the demo- 
cratic revolution, to establish the ideal Republic, and the 
direct rule of the citizen assembly. This, too, was a chi- 

B. c. 106-100] MEMMIUS 43 

mera. If the Roman Senate could not govern, far less 
could the Roman mob govern. Marius stood aside, and 
let the voices rage. He could not be expected to sup- 
port a system which had brought the country so near to 
ruin. He had no belief in the visions of the demagogues, 
but the time was not ripe to make an end of it all. Had 
he tried, the army would not have gone with him, so he 
sat still till faction had done its work. The popular heroes 
of the hour were the tribune Saturninus and the praetor 
Glaucia. They carried corn laws and land laws — what- 
ever laws they pleased to propose. The administration 
remaining with the Senate, they carried a vote that every 
senator should take an oath to execute their laws under 
penalty of fine and expulsion. Marius did not like it, and 
even opposed it, but let it pass at last. The senators, 
cowed and humiliated, consented to take the oath, all but 
one, Marius's old friend and commander in Africa, 
Csecilius Metellus. No stain had ever rested on the name 
of Metellus. He had accepted no bribes. He had half 
beaten Jugurtha, for Marius to finish; and Marius him- 
self stood in a semi-feudal relation to him. It was unlucky 
for the democrats that they had found so honorable an 
opponent. Metellus persisted in refusal. Saturninus 
sent a guard to the senate house, dragged him out, and 
expelled him from the city. Aristocrats and their parti- 
sans were hustled and killed in the street. The patricians 
had spilt the first blood in the massacre in 121 : now it was 
the turn of the mob. 

Marius was an indifferent politician. He perceived as 
well as anyone that violence must not go on, but he hesi- 
tated to put it down. He knew that the aristocracy feared 
and hated him. Between them and the people's consul 
no alliance was possible. He did not care to alienate his 
friends, and there may have been other difficulties which 
we do not know in his way. The army itself was perhaps 
divided. On the popular side there were two parties; a 
moderate one, represented by Memmius, who, as tribune, 
had impeached the senators for the Jugurthine infamies; 

44 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 106-100 

the other, the advanced radicals, led by Glaucia and Sat- 
urninus. Memmius and Glaucia were both candidates for 
the consulship; and as Memmius was likely to succeed, he 
was murdered. 

Revolutions proceed like the acts of a drama, and each 
act is divided into scenes which follow one another with 
singular uniformity. Ruling powers make themselves 
hated by tyranny and incapacity. An opposition is 
formed against them, composed of all sorts, lovers of order 
and lovers of disorder, reasonable men and fanatics, busi- 
nesslike men and men of theory. The opposition suc- 
ceeds; the Government is overthrown; the victors divide 
into a moderate party and an advanced party. The ad- 
vanced party go to the front, till they discredit themselves 
with crime or folly. The wheel has then gone round, and 
the reaction sets in. The murder of Memmius alienated 
fatally the respectable citizens. Saturninus and Glaucia 
were declared public enemies. They seized the Capitol, 
and blockaded it. Patrician Rome turned out and be- 
sieged them, and Marius had to interfere. The dema- 
gogues and their friends surrendered, and were confined 
in the Curia Hostilia till they could be tried. The noble 
lords could not allow such detested enemies the chance of 
an acquittal. To them a radical was a foe of mankind, 
to be hunted down like a wolf, when a chance was offered 
to destroy him. By the law of Caius Gracchus no citizen 
could be put to death without trial. The persons of Sat- 
urninus and Glaucia were doubly sacred, for one was trib- 
une and the other praetor. But the patricians were satis- 
fied that they deserved to be executed, and in such a frame 
of mind it seemed but virtue to execute them. They tore 
off the roof of the senate house, and pelted the miserable 
wretches to death with stones and tiles. 


NOT far from the scene of the murder of Glaucia and 
Saturninus there was lying at this time in his cra- 
dle, or carried about in his nurse's arms, a child 
who, in his manhood, was to hold an inquiry into this busi- 
ness, and to bring one of the perpetrators to answer for 
himself. On the 12th of the preceding July, B. C. ioo, 1 
was born into the world Caius Julius Caesar, the only son of 
Caius Julius and Aurelia, and nephew of the then Consul 
Marius. His father had been praetor, but had held no 
higher office. Aurelia was a strict stately lady of the old 
school, uninfected by the lately imported fashions. She, 
or her husband, or both of them, were rich; but the habits 
of the household were simple and severe, and the connec- 
tion with Marius indicates the political opinions which pre- 
vailed in the family. 

No anecdotes are preserved of Caesar's childhood. He 
was taught Greek by Antonius Gnipho, an educated Gaul 
from the north of Italy. He wrote a poem when a boy in 
honour of Hercules. He composed a tragedy on the story 
of CEdipus. His passionate attachment to Aurelia in after 
years shows that between mother and child the relations 
had been affectionate and happy. But there is nothing to 
indicate that there was any early precocity of talent, and 
leaving Caesar to his grammar and his exercises, we will 
proceed with the occurrences which he must have heard 
talked of in his father's house, or seen with his eyes 
when he began to open them. The society there was 
probably composed of his uncle's friends: soldiers and 
statesmen who had no sympathy with mobs, but detested 
the selfish and dangerous system on which the Senate had 
carried on the government, and dreaded its consequences. 
Above the tumults of the factions in the Capitol a cry ris- 


46 JULIUS C.ESAR [b. c. 100-89 

ing into shrillness began to be heard from Italy. Caius 
Gracchus had wished to extend the Roman franchise to 
the Italian States, and the suggestion had cost him his 
popularity and his life. The Italian provinces had fur- 
nished their share of the armies which had beaten Ju- 
gurtha, and had destroyed the German invaders. They 
now demanded that they should have the position which 
Gracchus designed for them: that they should be allowed 
to legislate for themselves, and no longer lie at the mercy 
of others, who neither understood their necessities nor 
cared for their interests. They had no friends in the city, 
save a few far-sighted statesmen. Senate and mob had at 
least one point of agreement, that the spoils of the Empire 
should be fought for among themselves; and at the first 
mention of the invasion of their monopoly a law was passed 
making the very agitation of the subject punishable by 

Political convulsions work in a groove, the direction of 
which varies little in any age or country. Institutions 
once sufficient and salutary become unadapted to a change 
of circumstances. The traditionary holders of power see 
their interests threatened. They are jealous of innova- 
tions. They look on agitators for reform as felonious per- 
sons desiring to appropriate what does not belong to them. 
The complaining parties are conscious of suffering, and 
rush blindly on the superficial causes of their immediate 
distress. The existing authority is their enemy; and their 
one remedy is a change in the system of government. 
They imagine that they see what the change should be, 
that they comprehend what they are doing, and know 
where they intend to arrive. They do not perceive that 
the visible disorders are no more than symptoms which no 
measures, repressive or revolutionary, can do more than 
palliate. The wave advances and the wave recedes. 
Neither party in the struggle can lift itself far enough 
above the passions of the moment to study the drift of the 
general current. Each is violent, each is one-sided, and 
each makes the most and the worst of the sins of its op- 

b. c. 100-89] THE ITALIAN FRANCHISE 47 

ponents. The one idea of the aggressors is to grasp all 
that they can reach. The one idea of the conservatives 
is to part with nothing, pretending that the stability of the 
State depends on adherence to the principles which have 
placed them in the position which they hold; and as vari- 
ous interests are threatened, and as various necessities 
arise, those who are one day enemies are frightened the 
next into unnatural coalitions, and the next after into more 
embittered dissensions. 

To an indifferent spectator, armed especially with the 
political experiences of twenty additional centuries, it 
seems difficult to understand how Italy could govern the 
world. That the world and Italy besides should continue 
subject to the population of a single city, of its limited 
Latin environs, and of a handful of townships excep- 
tionally favoured, might even then be seen to be plainly 
impossible. The Italians were Romans in every point, ex- 
cept in the possession of the franchise. They spoke the 
same language; they were subjects of the same dominion. 
They were as well educated, they were as wealthy, they 
were as capable, as the inhabitants of the dominant State. 
They paid taxes, they fought in the armies; they were 
strong; they were less corrupt, politically and morally, as 
having fewer temptations and fewer opportunities of evil; 
and in their simple country life they approached incom- 
parably nearer to the old Roman type than the patrician 
fops in the circus or the Forum, or the city mob which was 
fed in idleness on free grants of corn. When Samnium 
and Tuscany were conquered, a third of the lands had been 
confiscated to the Roman State, under the name of Ager 
Publicus. Samnite and Etruscan gentlemen had recov- 
ered part of it under lease, much as the descendants of the 
Irish chiefs held their ancestral domains as tenants of the 
Cromwellians. The land law of the Gracchi was well in- 
tended, but it bore hard on many of the leading provin- 
cials, who had seen their estates parcelled out, and their 
own property, as they deemed it, taken from them under 
the land commission. If they were to be governed by Ro- 

48 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 100-89 

man laws, they naturally demanded to be consulted when 
the laws were made. They might have been content un- 
der a despotism, to which Roman and Italian were subject 
alike. To be governed under the forms of a free consti- 
tution by men no better than themselves was naturally in- 

The movement from without united the Romans for the 
instant in defence of their privileges. The aristocracy re- 
sisted change from instinct; the mob, loudly as they clam- 
oured for their own rights, cared nothing for the rights of 
others, and the answer to the petition of the Italians, five 
years after the defeat of the Cimbri, was a fierce refusal to 
permit the discussion of it. Livius Drusus,one of those un- 
fortunately gifted men who can see that in a quarrel there 
is sometimes justice on both sides, made a vain attempt 
to secure the provincials a hearing, but he was murdered 
in his own house. To be murdered was the usual end of 
exceptionally distinguished Romans, in a State where the 
lives of citizens were theoretically sacred. His death was 
the signal for an insurrection, which began in the moun- 
tains of the Abruzzi and spread over the whole pe- 

The contrast of character between the two classes of 
population became at once uncomfortably evident. The 
provincials had been the right arm of the Empire. Rome, 
a city of rich men wiih families of slaves, and of a crowd 
of impoverished freemen without employment to keep 
them in health and strength, could no longer bring into 
the field a force which could hold its ground against the 
gentry and peasants of Samnium. The Senate enlisted 
Greeks, Numidians, anyone whose service they could pur- 
chase. They had to encounter soldiers who had been 
trained and disciplined by Marius, and they were taught, 
by defeat upon defeat, that they had a worse enemy before 
them than the Germans. Marius himself had almost 
withdrawn from public life. He had no heart for 
the quarrel, and did not care greatly to exert him- 
self. At the bottom, perhaps, he thought that the 

B. c. 100-89] THE ITALIAN WAR 49 

Italians were in the right. The Senate discovered 
that they were helpless, and must come to terms if they 
would escape destruction. They abandoned the original 
point of difference, and they offered to open the franchise 
to every Italian state south of the Po, which had not 
taken arms, or which returned immediately to its allegi- 
ance. The war had broken out for a definite cause. 
When the cause was removed no reason remained for its 
continuance. The Italians were closely connected with 
Rome. Italians were spread over the Roman world in ac- 
tive business. They had no wish to overthrow the Em- 
pire if they were allowed a share in its management. The 
greater part of them accepted the Senate's terms; and only 
those remained in the field who had gone to war in the 
hope of recovering the lost independence which their an- 
cestors had so long heroically defended. 

The panting Senate was thus able to breathe again. 
The war continued, but under better auspices. Sound 
material could now be collected again for the army. 
Marius being in the background, the chosen knight of the 
aristocracy, Lucius Sylla, whose fame in the Cimbrian war 
had been only second to that of his commander's, came at 
once to the front. 

Sylla, or Sulla, as we are now taught to call him, was 
born in the year 138 B. C. He was a patrician of the 
purest blood, had inherited a moderate fortune, and had 
spent it like other young men of rank, lounging in theatres, 
and amusing himself with dinner-parties. He was a poet, 
an artist, and a wit, but each and everything with the 
languor of an amateur. His favourite associates were act- 
resses, and he had neither obtained nor aspired to any 
higher reputation than that of a cultivated man of fashion. 
His distinguished birth was not apparent in his person. 
He had red hair, hard blue eyes, and a complexion white 
and purple, with the colours so ill-mixed that his face was 
compared to a mulberry sprinkled with flour. Ambition 
he appeared to have none; and when he exerted himself to 
be appointed Quaestor to Marius on the African expedi- 

50 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 100-89 

tion, Marius was disinclined to take him as having no rec- 
ommendation beyond qualifications which the consul of 
the plebeians disdained and disliked. 

Marius, however, soon discovered his mistake. Be- 
neath his constitutional indolence, Sylla was by nature a 
soldier, a statesman, a diplomatist. He had been too con- 
temptuous of the common objects of politicians to concern 
himself with the intrigues of the Forum, but he had only 
to exert himself to rise with easy ascendency to the com- 
mand of every situation in which he might be placed. He 
had entered with military instinct into Marius's reform of 
the army, and became the most active and useful of his 
officers. He endeared himself to the legionaries by a 
tolerance of vices which did not interfere with discipline; 
and to Sylla's combined adroitness and courage Marius 
owed the final capture of Jugurtha. 

Whether Marius became jealous of Sylla on this occa- 
sion must be decided by those who, while they have no 
better information than others as to the actions of men, 
possess, or claim to possess, the most intimate acquaint- 
ance with their motives. They again served together, 
however, against the Northern invaders, and Sylla a sec- 
ond time lent efficient help to give Marius victory. Like 
Marius, he had no turn for platform oratory, and little 
interest in election contests and intrigues. For eight years 
he kept aloof from politics, and his name and that of his 
rival were alike for all that time almost unheard of. He 
emerged into special notice only when he was praetor in 
the year 93 B. C, and when he characteristically distin- 
guished his term of office by exhibiting a hundred lions in 
the arena matched against Numidian archers. There was 
no such road to popularity with the Roman multitude. It 
is possible that the little Caesar, then a child of seven, may 
have been among the spectators, making his small reflec- 
tions on it all. 

In 92 Sylla went as propraetor to Asia, where the in- 
capacity of the Senate's administration was creating 
another enemy likely to be troublesome. Mithridates, 

B. c. 100-89] MITHRIDATES 5 1 

" child of the sun," pretending to a descent from Darius 
Hystaspes, was king of Pontus, one of the semi-independ- 
ent monarchies which had been allowed to stand in Asia 
Minor. The coast line of Pontus extended from Sinope 
to Trebizond, and reached inland to the line of mountains 
where the rivers divide which flow into the Black Sea and 
the Mediterranean. The father of Mithridates was mur- 
dered when he was a child, and for some years he led a 
wandering life, meeting adventures which were as wild and 
perhaps as imaginary as those of Ulysses. In later life he 
became the idol of Eastern imagination, and legend made 
free with his history, but he was certainly an extraordinary 
man. He spoke the unnumbered dialects of the Asiatic 
tribes among whom he had travelled. He spoke Greek with 
ease and freedom. Placed, as he was, on the margin where 
the civilizations of the East and the West were brought 
in contact, he was at once a barbarian potentate and an 
ambitious European politician. He was well informed of 
the state of Rome, and saw reason, perhaps, as well he 
might, to doubt the durability of its power. At any rate, 
he was no sooner fixed on his own throne than he began 
to annex the territories of the adjoining princes. He ad- 
vanced his sea frontier through Armenia to Batoum, and 
thence along the coast of Circassia. He occupied the 
Greek settlements on the Sea of Azof. He took Kertch 
and the Crimea, and with the help of pirates from the Med- 
iterranean he formed a fleet which gave him complete 
command of the Black Sea. In Asia Minor no powe.r but. 
the Roman could venture to quarrel with him. The 
Romans ought in prudence to have interfered before 
Mithridates had grown to so large a bulk, but money judi- 
ciously distributed among the leading politicians had 
secured the Senate's connivance; and they opened their 
eyes at last only when Mithridates thought it unnecessary 
to subsidize them further, and directed his proceedings 
against Cappadocia, which was immediately under Roman 
protection. He invaded the country, killed the prince 
whom Rome had recognised, and placed on the throne a 

52 JULIUS CESAR [b.c. 100-89 

child of his own, with the evident intention of taking Cap- 
padocia for himself. 

This was to go too far. Like Jugurtha, he ha<J pur- 
chased many friends in the Senate, who, grateful for past 
favours and hoping for more, prevented the adoption of 
violent measures against him; but they sent a message to 
him that he must not have Cappadocia, and Mithridates, 
waiting for a better opportunity, thought proper to com- 
ply. Of this message the bearer was Lucius Sylla. He 
had time to study on the spot the problem of how to deal 
with Asia Minor. He accomplished his mission with his 
usual adroitness and apparent success, and he returned to 
Rome with new honours to finish the Social war. 

It was no easy work. The Samnites were tough and 
determined. For two years they continued to struggle, 
and the contest was not yet over when news came from 
the East appalling as the threatened Cimbrian invasion, 
which brought both parties to consent to suspend their 
differences by mutual concessions. 


1 Page 45. I follow the ordinary date, which has been fixed by the 
positive statement that Caesar was fifty-six when he was killed, the date 
of his death being March b. c. 44. Mommsen, however, argues plaus- 
ibly for adding another two years to the beginning of Caesar's life, and 
brings him into the world at the time of the battle at Aix. 


BARBARIAN kings, who found Roman senators 
ready to take bribes from them, believed not un- 
naturally that the days of Roman dominion were 
numbered. When the news of the Social war reached 
Mithridates, he thought it needless to temporize longer, 
and he stretched out his hand to seize the prize of the do- 
minion of the East. The Armenians, who were at his dis- 
position, broke into Cappadocia and again overthrew the 
government, which was in dependence upon Rome. 
Mithridates himself invaded Bithynia, and replied to the 
remonstrances of the Roman authorities by a declaration 
of open war. He called under arms the whole force of 
which he could dispose; frightened rumour spoke of it as 
amounting to three hundred thousand men. His corsair 
fleets poured down through the Dardanelles into the 
Archipelago; and so detested had the Roman governors 
made themselves by their extortion and injustice, that 
not only all the islands, but the provinces on the con- 
tinent, Ionia, Lydia, and Caria, rose in revolt. The 
rebellion was preconcerted and simultaneous. The 
Roman residents, merchants, bankers, farmers of the 
taxes, they and all their families, were set upon and mur- 
dered; a hundred and fifty thousand men, women, and 
children were said to have been destroyed in a single day. 
If we divide by ten, as it is generally safe to do with his- 
torical round numbers, still beyond doubt the signal had 
been given in an appalling massacre to abolish out of Asia 
the Roman name and power. Swift as a thunderbolt, 
Mithridates himself crossed the Bosphorus, and the next 
news that reached Rome was that northern Greece had 
risen also, and was throwing itself into the arms of its 


54 JULIUS CESAR [ B . c. 89-84 

The defeat at Cannae had been received with dignified 
calm. Patricians and plebeians forgot their quarrels, and 
thought only how to meet their common foe. The massa- 
cre in Asia and the invasion of Mithridates let loose a tem- 
pest of political frenzy. Never was indignation more de- 
served. The Senate had made no preparation. Such re- 
sources as they could command had been wasted in the 
wars with the Italians. They had no fleet, they had no 
armies available; nor, while the civil war was raging, could 
they raise an army. The garrisons in Greece were scat- 
tered or shut in within their lines and unable to move. 
The treasury was empty. Individuals were enormously 
rich, and the State was bankrupt. Thousands of families 
had lost brothers, cousins, or friends in the massacre, and 
the manifest cause of the disaster was the inefficiency and 
worthlessness of the ruling classes. In Africa, in Gaul, in 
Italy, and now in Asia, it had been the same story. The 
interests of the commonwealth had been sacrificed to fill 
the purses of the few. Dominion, wealth, honours, all that 
had been won by the hardy virtues of earlier generations, 
seemed about to be engulfed forever. 

In their panic the Senate turned to Sylla, whom they 
had made consul. An imperfect peace was patched up 
with the Italians. Sylla was bidden to save the Republic, 
and to prepare in haste for Greece. But Sylla was a bitter 
aristocrat, the very incarnation of the oligarchy, who were 
responsible for every disaster which had happened. The 
Senate had taken bribes from Jugurtha. The Senate had 
chosen the commanders whose blunders had thrown open 
the Alps to the Germans; and it was only because the 
people had snatched the power out of their hands and had 
trusted it to one of themselves that Italy had not been in 
flames. Again the oligarchy had recovered the adminis- 
tration, and again by following the old courses they had 
brought on this new catastrophe. They might have 
checked Mithridates while there was time. They had pre- 
ferred to accept his money and look on. The people nat- 
urally thought that no successes could be looked for under 

b. c. 89-84] MARIUS AND SYLLA 55 

such guidance, and that, even were Sylla to be victorious, 
nothing was to be expected but the continuance of the 
same accursed system. Marius was the man. Marius, 
after his sixth consulship, had travelled in the East, and 
understood it as well as Sylla. Not Sylla, but Marius must 
now go against Mithridates. Too late the democratic 
leaders repented of their folly in encouraging the Senate 
to refuse the franchise to the Italians. The Italians, they 
began to preceive, would be their surest political allies. 
Caius Gracchus had been right after all. The Roman 
democracy must make haste to offer the Italians more than 
all which the Senate was ready to concede to them. To- 
gether they could make an end of misrule, and place 
Marius once more at their head. 

Much of this was perhaps the scheming passion of rev- 
olution; much of it was legitimate indignation, penitent 
for its errors, and anxious to atone for them. Marius had 
his personal grievances. The aristocrats were stealing 
from him even his military reputation, and claiming for 
Sylla the capture of Jugurtha. He was willing, perhaps 
anxious, to take the Eastern command. Sulpicius Rufus, 
once a champion of the Senate and the most brilliant ora- 
tor in Rome, went over to the people in the excitement. 
Rufus was chosen tribune, and at once proposed to en- 
franchise the remainder of Italy. He denounced the oli- 
garchy. He insisted that the Senate must be purged of 
its corrupt members and better men be introduced, that 
the people must depose Sylla, and that Marius must take 
his place. The Empire was tottering, and the mob and its 
leaders were choosing an ill moment for a revolution. The 
tribune carried the assembly along with him. There were 
fights again in the Forum, the young nobles with their 
gangs once more breaking up the Comitia and driving the 
people from the voting places. The voting, notwithstand- 
ing, was got through as Sulpicius Rufus recommended, 
and Sylla, so far as the assembly could do it, was super- 
seded. But Sylla was not so easily got rid of. It was no 
time for nice considerations. He had formed an army in 

56 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 89-84 

Campania out of the legions which had served against the 
Italians. He had made his soldiers devoted to him. They 
were ready to go anywhere and do anything which Sylla 
bade them. After so many murders and so many commo- 
tions, the constitution had lost its sacred character; a pop- 
ular assembly was, of all conceivable bodies, the least fit 
to govern an Empire; and in Sylla's eyes the Senate, what- 
ever its deficiencies, was the only possible sovereign of 
Rome. The people were a rabble, and their voices the 
clamour of fools, who must be taught to know their masters. 
His reply to Sulpicius and to the vote for his recall was to 
march on the city. He led his troops within the circle 
which no legionary in arms was allowed to enter, and he 
lighted his watchfires in the Forum itself. The people re- 
sisted; Sulpicius was killed; Marius, the saviour of his 
country, had to fly for his life, pursued by assassins, with a 
price set upon his head. Twelve of the prominent popular 
leaders were immediately executed without trial; and in 
hot haste, swift decisive measures were taken, which per- 
manently, as Sylla hoped, or if not permanently at least for 
the moment, would lame the limbs of the democracy. The 
Senate, being below its numbers, was hastily filled up from 
the patrician families. The arrangements of the Comitia 
were readjusted, to restore to wealth a decisive preponder- 
ance in the election of the magistrates. The tribunes of 
the people were stripped of half their power. Their vote 
was left to them, but the right of initiation was taken away; 
and no law or measure of any kind was thenceforth to be 
submitted to the popular assembly till it had been con- 
sidered in the Curia and had received the Senate's 

Thus the snake was scotched, and it might be hoped 
would die of its wounds. Sulpicius and his brother dema- 
gogues were dead. Marius was exiled. Time pressed, 
and Sylla could not wait to see his reforms in operation. 
Signs became visible before he went that the crisis would 
not pass off so easily. Fresh consuls had to be elected. 
The changes in the method of voting were intended to 

b. c. 89-84] SYLLA 57 

secure the return of the Senate's candidates, and one of the 
consuls chosen, Cnseus Octavius, was a man on whom Sylla 
could rely. His colleague, Lucius Cinna, though elected 
under the pressure of the legions, was of more doubtful 
temper. But Cinna was a patrician, though given to pop- 
ular sentiments. Sylla was impatient to be going; more 
important work was waiting for him than composing fac- 
tions in Rome. He contented himself with obliging the 
new consuls to take an oath to maintain the constitution in 
the shape in which he left it, and he sailed from Brindisi in 
the winter of B. C. 88. 

The campaign of Sylla in the East does not fall to be 
described in this place. He was a second Coriolanus, a 
proud, imperious aristocrat, contemptuous, above all men 
living, of popular rights; but he was the first soldier of his 
age; he was himself, though he did not know it, an imper- 
sonation of the change which was passing over the Roman 
character. He took with him at most 30,000 men. He 
had no fleet. Had the corsair squadrons of Mithridates 
been on the alert, they might have destroyed him on his 
passage. Events at Rome left him almost immediately 
without support from Italy. He was impeached, he was 
summoned back. His troops were forbidden to obey him, 
and a democratic commander was sent out to supersede 
him. The army stood by their favourite commander. 
Sylla disregarded his orders from home. He found men 
and money as he could. He supported himself out of the 
countries which he occupied, without resources save in his 
own skill and in the fidelity and excellence of his legions. 
He defeated Mithridates, he drove him back out of Greece 
and pursued him into Asia. The interests of his party 
demanded his presence at Rome; the interests of the State 
required that he should not leave his work in the East un- 
finished; and he stood to it through four hard years till he 
brought Mithridates to sue for peace upon his knees. He 
had not the means to complete the conquest or completely 
to avenge the massacre with which the Prince of Pontus 
had commenced the war. He left Mithridates still in pos- 

58 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 89-84 

session of his hereditary kingdom; but he left him bound, 
so far as treaties could bind so ambitious a spirit, to remain 
thenceforward within his own frontiers. He recovered 
Greece and the Islands, and the Roman provinces in Asia 
Minor. He extorted an indemnity of five millions, and 
executed many of the wretches who had been active in the 
murders. He raised a fleet in Egypt, with which he drove 
the pirates out of the Archipelago back into their own 
waters. He restored the shattered prestige of Roman 
authority, and he won for himself a reputation which his 
later cruelties might stain, but could not efface. 

The merit of Sylla shows in more striking colours when 
we look to what was passing, during these four years of 
his absence, in the heart of the Empire. He was no sooner 
out of Italy than the democratic party rose, with Cinna at 
their head, to demand the restoration of the old constitu- 
tion. Cinna had been sworn to maintain Sylla's reforms, 
but no oath could be held binding which was extorted at 
the sword's point. A fresh Sulpicius was found in Carbo, 
a popular tribune. A more valuable supporter was found 
in Quintus Sertorius, a soldier of fortune, but a man of 
real gifts, and even of genius. Disregarding the new ob- 
ligation to obtain the previous consent of the Senate, Cinna 
called the assembly together to repeal the acts which Sylla 
had forced on them. Sylla, it is to be remembered, had as 
yet won no victories, nor was expected to win victories. 
He was the favourite of the Senate, and the Senate had be- 
come a byword for incapacity and failure. Again, as so 
many times before, the supremacy of the aristocrats had 
been accompanied with dishonour abroad, and the lawless 
murder of political adversaries at home. No true lover 
of his country could be expected, in Cinna's opinion, to sit 
quiet under a tyranny which had robbed the people of their 
hereditary liberties. 

The patricians took up the challenge. Octavius, the 
other consul, came with an armed force into the Forum, 
and ordered the assembly to disperse. The crowd was 
unusually great. The country voters had come in large 

B. c. 89-84] MARIUS AND CINNA 59 

numbers to stand up for their rights. They did not obey. 
They were not called on to obey. But because they re- 
fused to disperse they were set upon with deliberate fury, 
and were hewn down in heaps where they stood. No 
accurate register was of course taken of the numbers killed; 
but the intention of the patricians was to make a bloody 
example, and such a scene of slaughter had never been 
witnessed in Rome since the first stone of the city was laid. 
It was an act of savage, ruthless ferocity, certain to be 
followed with a retribution as sharp and as indiscriminat- 
ing. Men are not permitted to deal with their fellow 
creatures in these methods. Cinna and the tribunes fled, 
but fled only to be received with open arms by the Italians. 
The wounds of the Social war were scarcely cicatrized, and 
the peace had left the allies imperfectly satisfied. Their 
dispersed armies gathered again about Cinna and Ser- 
torius. Old Marius, who had been hunted through marsh 
and forest, and had been hiding with difficulty in Africa, 
came back at the news that Italy had risen again; and six 
thousand of his veterans flocked to him at the sound of his 
name. The Senate issued proclamations. The limita- 
tions on the Italian franchise left by Sylla were abandoned. 
Every privilege which had been asked for was conceded. 
It was too late. Concessions made in fear might be with- 
drawn on the return of safety. Marius and Cinna joined 
their forces. The few troops in the pay of the Senate de- 
serted to them. They appeared together at the gates of 
the city, and Rome capitulated. 

There was a bloody score to be wiped out. There would 
have been neither cruelty nor injustice in the most severe 
inquiry into the massacre in the Forum, and the most ex- 
emplary punishment of Octavius and his companions. 
But the blood of the people was up, and they had suffered 
too deeply to wait for the tardy processes of law. They 
had not been the aggressors. They had assembled law- 
fully to assert their constitutional rights; they had been cut 
in pieces as if they had been insurgent slaves, and the assas- 
sins were not individuals, but a political party in the State. 

60 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 89-84 

Marius bears the chief blame for the scenes which fol- 
lowed. Undoubtedly he was in no pleasant humour. A 
price had been set on his head, his house had been de- 
stroyed, his property had been confiscated, he himself had 
been chased like a wild beast, and he had not deserved such 
treatment. He had saved Italy when but for him it would 
have been wasted by the swords of the Germans. His 
power had afterwards been absolute, but he had not abused 
it for party purposes. The Senate had no reason to com- 
plain of him. He had touched none of their privileges, 
incapable and dishonest as he knew them to be. His 
crime in their eyes had been his eminence. They had now 
shown themselves as cruel as they were worthless; and if 
public justice was disposed to make an end of them, he saw 
no cause for interference. 

Thus the familiar story repeated itself; wrong was pun- 
ished by wrong, and another item was entered on the 
bloody account which was being scored up year after year. 
The noble lords and their friends had killed the people in 
the Forum. They were killed in turn by the soldiers of 
Marius. Fifty senators perished, not those who were 
specially guilty, but those who were most politically 
marked as patrician leaders. With them fell a thousand 
equites, commoners of fortune, who had thrown in their 
lot with the aristocracy. From retaliatory political re- 
venge the transition was easy to pillage and wholesale 
murder; and for many days the wretched city was made a 
prey to robbers and cut-throats. 

So ended the year 87, the darkest and bloodiest which 
the guilty city had yet experienced. Marius and Cinna 
were chosen consuls for the year ensuing, and a witches' 
prophecy was fulfilled, that Marius should have a seventh 
consulate. But the glory had departed from him. His 
sun was already setting, redly, among crimson clouds. He 
lived but a fortnight after his inauguration, and he died in 
his bed on the 13th of January, at the age of seventy-one. 

" The mother of the Gracchi," said Mirabeau, " cast the 
dust of her murdered sons into the air, and out of it sprang 


Caius Marius." The Gracchi were perhaps not forgotten 
in the retribution; but the crime which had been revenged 
by Marius was the massacre in the Forum by Octavius 
and his friends. The aristocracy found no mercy, because 
they had shown no mercy. They had been guilty of the 
most wantonly wicked cruelty which the Roman annals 
had yet recorded. They were not defending their 
country against a national danger. They were engaged 
in what has been called in later years " saving society," 
that is to say, in saving their own privileges, their oppor- 
tunities for plunder, their palaces, their estates, and their 
game preserves. They had treated the people as if they 
were so many cattle grown troublesome to their masters, 
and the cattle were human beings with rights as real as 
their own. 

The democratic party were now masters of the situation, 
and so continued for almost four years. Cinna succeeded 
to the consulship term after term, nominating himself 
and his colleagues. The franchise was given to the 
Italians without reserve or qualification. Northern Italy 
was still excluded, being not called Italy, but Cisalpine 
Gaul. South of the Po distinctions of citizenship ceased 
to exist. The constitution became a rehearsal of the Em- 
pire, a democracy controlled and guided by a popular Dic- 
tator. The aristocrats who had escaped massacre fled to 
Sylla in Asia, and for a brief interval Rome drew its breath 
in peace. 


REVOLUTIONARY periods are painted in history 
in colours so dark that the reader wonders how, 
- amidst such scenes, peaceful human beings could 
continue to exist. He forgets that the historian describes 
only the abnormal incidents which broke the current of 
ordinary life, and that between the spasms of violence there 
were long quiet intervals when the ordinary occupations 
of men went on as usual. Cinna's continuous consulship 
was uncomfortable to the upper classes, but the daily busi- 
ness of a great city pursued its beaten way. Tradesmen 
and merchants made money, and lawyers pleaded, and 
priests prayed in the temples, and " celebrated " on festival 
and holy day. And now for the first time we catch a per- 
sonal view of young Julius Caesar. He was growing up, 
in his father's house, a tall slight handsome youth, with 
dark piercing eyes, 1 a sallow complexion, large nose, lips 
full, features refined and intellectual, neck sinewy and 
thick, beyond what might have been expected from the 
generally slender figure. He was particular about his ap- 
pearance, used the bath frequently, and attended carefully 
to his hair. His dress was arranged with studied negli- 
gence, and he had a loose mode of fastening his girdle so 
peculiar as to catch the eye. 

It may be supposed that he had witnessed Sylla's coming 
to Rome, the camp-fires in the Forum, the Octavian massa- 
cre, the return of his uncle and Cinna, and the bloody 
triumph of the party to which his father belonged. He 
was just at the age when such scenes make an indelible im- 
pression; and the connection of his family with Marius 
suggests easily the persons whom he must have most often 
seen, and the conversation to which he must have listened 
at his father's table. His most intimate companions were 
the younger Marius, the adopted son of his uncle; and, 


B. c. 84-78] YOUTH AND MARRIAGE 63 

singularly enough, the two Ciceros, Marcus and his brother 
Quintus, who had been sent by their father to be educated 
at Rome. The connection of Marius with Arpinum was 
perhaps the origin of the intimacy. The great man may 
have heard of his fellow-townsman's children being in the 
city, and have taken notice of them. Certain, at any rate, 
it is that these boys grew up together on terms of close 
familiarity. 2 

Marius had observed his nephew, and had marked him 
for promotion. During the brief fortnight of his seventh 
consulship he gave him an appointment, which reminds 
us of the boy-bishops of the Middle Ages. He made him 
flamen dialis, or priest of Jupiter, and a member of the 
Sacred College, with a handsome income, when he was no 
more than fourteen. Two years later, during the rule of 
Cinna, his father arranged a marriage for him with a lady 
of fortune named Cossutia. But the young Caesar had 
more ambitious views for himself. His father died sud- 
denly at Pisa, in B. C. 84; he used his freedom to break off 
his engagement, and instead of Cossutia he married Cor- 
nelia, the daughter of no less a person than the all-power- 
ful Cinna himself. If the date commonly received for 
Caesar's birth is correct, he was still only in his seventeenth 
year. Such connections were rarely formed at an age so 
premature; and the doubt is increased by the birth of his 
daughter, Julia, in the year following. Be this as it may, 
a marriage into Cinna's family connected Caesar more 
closely than ever with the popular party. Thus early and 
thus definitely he committed himself to the politics of his 
uncle and his father-in-law; and the comparative quiet 
which Rome and Italy enjoyed under Cinna's administra- 
tion may have left a permanent impression upon him. 

The quiet was not destined to be of long endurance. 
The time was come when Sylla was to demand a reckoning 
for all which had been done in his absence. No Roman 
general had deserved better of his country than Sylla. He 
had driven Mithridates out of Greece, and had restored 
Roman authority in Asia under conditions peculiarly diffi- 

64 JULIUS C^iSAR [b. c. 84-78 

cult. He had clung resolutely to his work, while his 
friends at home were being trampled upon by the populace 
whom he despised. He perhaps knew that in subduing 
the enemies of the State by his own individual energy he 
was taking the surest road to regain his ascendency. His 
task was finished. Mithridates was once more a petty 
Asiatic prince existing upon sufferance, and Sylla an- 
nounced his approaching return to Italy. By his victories 
he had restored confidence to the aristocracy, and had won 
the respect of millions of his countrymen. But the party 
in power knew well that if he gained a footing in Italy, 
their day was over, and the danger to be expected from 
him was aggravated by his transcendent services. The 
Italians feared naturally that they would lose the liberties 
which they had won. The popular faction at Rome was 
combined and strong, and was led by men of weight and 
practical ability. No reconciliation was possible between 
Cinna and Sylla. They were the respective chiefs of heaven 
and hell, and which of the two represented the higher 
power and which the lower could only be determined when 
the sword had decided between them. In Cinna lay the 
presumed lawful authority. He represented the people as 
organized in the Comitia; and his colleague in the consul- 
ship when the crisis came was the popular tribune, Carbo. 
Italy was ready with armies; and as leaders there were 
young Marius, already with a promise of greatness in him, 
and Sertorius, gifted, brilliant, unstained by crime, adored 
by his troops as passionately as Sylla himself, and destined 
to win a place for himself elsewhere in the Pantheon of 
Rome's most distinguished men. 

Sylla had measured the difficulty of the task which lay 
before him. But he had an army behind him accustomed 
to victory, and recruited by thousands of exiles who had 
fled from the rule of the democracy. He had now a fleet 
to cover his passage; and he was watching the movements 
of his enemies before deciding upon his own, when acci- 
dent came suddenly to his help. Cinna had gone down to 
Brindisi, intending himself to carry his army into Greece, 

B.C. 84-78] RETURN OF SYLLA 65 

and to spare Italy the miseries of another civil war, by 
fighting it out elsewhere. The expedition was unpopular 
with the soldiers, and Cinna was killed in a mutiny. The 
democracy was thus left without a head, and the moderate 
party in the city who desired peace and compromise used 
the opportunity to elect two neutral consuls, Scipio and 
Norbanus. Sylla, perhaps supposing the change of feel- 
ing to be more complete than it really was, at once opened 
communications with them. But his terms were such as 
he might have dictated if the popular party were already 
under his feet. He intended to re-enter Rome with the 
glory of his conquests about him, for revenge, and a 
counter revolution. The consuls replied with refusing to 
treat with a rebel in arms, and with a command to disband 
his troops. 

Sylla had lingered at Athens, collecting paintings and 
statues and manuscripts, the rarest treasures on which he 
could lay his hands, to decorate his Roman palace. On 
receiving the consuls' answer he sailed for Brindisi in the 
spring of 83, with forty thousand legionaries and a large 
fleet. The south of Italy made no resistance, and he se- 
cured a standing ground where his friends could rally to 
him. They came in rapidly, some for the cause which he 
represented, some for private hopes or animosities, some 
as aspiring military adventurers, seeking the patronage of 
the greatest soldier of the age. Among these last came 
Cnseus Pompey, afterwards Pompey the Great, son of 
Pompey, surnamed Strabo or the squint-eyed, either from 
some personal deformity, or because he had trimmed be- 
tween the two factions, and was distrusted and hated by 
them both. 

Cnseus Pompey had been born in the same year with 
Cicero, and was now twenty-three. He was a high- 
spirited ornamental youth, with soft melting eyes, as good 
as he was beautiful, and so delightful to women that it was 
said they all longed to bite him. The Pompeys had been 
hardly treated by Cinna. The father had been charged 
with embezzlement. The family house in Rome had been 

66 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 84-78 

confiscated; the old Strabo had been killed; the son had 
retired to his family estate in Picenum, 3 where he was liv- 
ing when Sylla landed. To the young Roman chivalry, 
Sylla was a hero of romance. Pompey raised a legion out 
of his friends and tenants, scattered the few companies that 
tried to stop him, and rushed to the side of his deliverer. 
Others came, like Sergius Catiline or Oppianicus of La- 
rino, 4 men steeped in crime, stained with murder, incest, 
adultery, forgery, and meaning to secure the fruits of their 
villainies by well-timed service. They were all welcome, 
and Sylla was not particular. His progress was less rapid 
than it promised to be at the outset. He easily defeated 
Norbanus; and Scipio's troops, having an aristocratic 
leaven in them, deserted to him. But the Italians, espe- 
cially the Samnites, fought most desperately. The war 
lasted for more than a year, Sylla slowly advancing. The 
Roman mob became furious. They believed their cause 
betrayed, and were savage from fear and disappointment. 
Suspected patricians were murdered: among them fell the 
Pontifex Maximus, the venerable Scsevola. At length the 
contest ended in a desperate fight under the walls of Rome 
itself on the 1st of November, B. C. 82. The battle began 
at four in the afternoon, and lasted through the night to 
the dawn of the following day. The popular army was at 
last cut to pieces, a few thousand prisoners were taken, 
but they were murdered afterwards in cold blood. Young 
Marius killed himself, Sertorius fled to Spain, and Sylla 
and the aristocracy were masters of Rome and Italy. Such 
provincial towns as continued to resist were stormed and 
given up to pillage, every male inhabitant being put to 
the sword. At Norba, in Latium, the desperate citizens 
fired their own houses and perished by each other's hands. 
Sylla was under no illusions. He understood the prob- 
lem which he had in hand. He knew that the aristocracy 
were detested by nine-tenths of the people; he knew that 
they deserved to be detested; but they were at least gentle- 
men by birth and breeding. The democrats, on the other 
hand, were insolent upstarts, who, instead of being grate- 


ful for being allowed to live and work and pay taxes and 
serve in the army, had dared to claim a share in the gov- 
ernment, had turned against their masters, and had set 
their feet upon their necks. The miserable multitude 
were least to blame. They were ignorant, and without 
leaders could be controlled easily. The guilt and the 
danger lay with the men of wealth and intellect, the country 
gentlemen, the minority of knights and patricians like 
Cinna, who had taken the popular side and had deserted 
their own order. Their motives mattered not; some might 
have acted from foolish enthusiasm; some from personal 
ambition; but such traitors, from the Gracchi onwards, had 
caused all the mischief which had happened to the State. 
They were determined, they were persevering. No con- 
cessions had satisfied them, and one demand had been a 
prelude to another. There was no hope for an end of agi- 
tation, till every one of these men had been rooted out, 
their estates taken from them, and their families destroyed. 
To this remarkable work Sylla addressed himself, un- 
conscious that he was attempting an impossibility, 
that opinion could not be controlled by the sword, 
and that for every enemy to the oligarchy that he 
killed he would create twenty by his cruelty. Like 
Marius after the Octavian massacre, he did not at- 
tempt to distinguish between degrees of culpability. 
Guilt was not the question with him. His object 
was less to punish the past, than to prevent a recur- 
rence of it; and moderate opposition was as objectionable 
as fanaticism and frenzy. He had no intention of keeping 
power in his own hands. Personal supremacy might end 
with himself; and he intended to create institutions which 
would endure, in the form of a close senatorial monopoly. 
But for his purpose it would be necessary to remove out of 
the way every single person, either in Rome or in the 
provinces, who was in a position to offer active resistance, 
and, therefore, for the moment he required complete free- 
dom of action. The Senate at his direction appointed him 
Dictator, and in this capacity he became absolute master 

68 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 84-78 

of the life and property of every man and woman in Italy. 
He might be impeached afterwards and his policy reversed, 
but while his office lasted he could do what he pleased. 

He at once outlawed every magistrate, every public ser- 
vant of any kind, civil or municipal, who had held office 
under the rule of Cinna. Lists were drawn for him of the 
persons of wealth and consequence all over Italy who be- 
longed to the liberal party. He selected agents whom he 
could trust, or supposed he could trust, to enter the names 
for each district. He selected, for instance, Oppianicus of 
Larino, who inscribed individuals whom he had already 
murdered, and their relations whose prosecution he 
feared. It mattered little to Sylla who were included, if 
none escaped who were really dangerous to him; and an 
order was issued for the slaughter of the entire number, the 
confiscation of their property, and the division of it be- 
tween the informers and Sylla's friends and soldiers. 
Private interest was thus called in to assist political ani- 
mosity; and to stimulate the zeal for assassination a reward 
of 500I. was offered for the head of any person whose name 
was in the schedule. 

It was one of those deliberate acts, carried out with 
method and order, which are possible only in countries 
in an advanced stage of civilization, and which show how 
thin is the film spread over human ferocity by what is 
called progress and culture. We read in every page of 
history of invasions of hostile armies, of towns and villages 
destroyed, and countries wasted and populations perishing 
of misery; the simplest war brings a train of horrors behind 
it; but we bear them with comparative equanimity. Per- 
sonal hatreds are not called out on such occasions. The 
actors in them are neither necessarily nor generally fiends. 
The grass grows again on the trampled fields. Peace re- 
turns, and we forget and forgive. The coldly ordered 
massacres of selected victims in political and spiritual 
struggles rise in a different order of feelings, and are re- 
membered through all ages with indignation and shame. 
The victims perish as the champions of principles which 


survive through the changes of time. They are marked 
for the sacrifice on account of their advocacy of a cause 
which to half mankind is the cause of humanity. They 
are the martys of history, and the record of atrocity rises 
again in immortal witness against the opinions out of 
which it rose. 

Patricians and plebeians, aristocrats and democrats, 
have alike stained their hands with blood in the working 
out of the problem of politics. But impartial history also 
declares that the crimes of the popular party have in all 
ages been the lighter in degree, while in themselves they 
have more to excuse them; and if the violent acts of revo- 
lutionists have been held up more conspicuously for con- 
demnation, it had been only because the fate of noblemen 
and gentlemen has been more impressive to the imagina- 
tion than the fate of the peasant or the artisan. But the 
endurance of the inequalities of life by the poor is the 
marvel of human society. When the people complain, said 
Mirabeau, the people are always right. The popular cause 
has been the cause of the labourer struggling for a right to 
live and breathe and think as a man. Aristocracies fight 
for wealth and power, wealth which they waste upon lux- 
ury, and power which they abuse for their own interests. 
Yet the cruelties of Marius were as far exceeded by the 
cruelties of Sylla as the insurrection of the beggars of Hol- 
land was exceeded by the bloody tribunal of the Duke of 
Alva; or as " the horrors of the French Revolution " were 
exceeded by the massacre of the Huguenots two hundred 
years before, for which the Revolution was the expiatory 

Four thousand seven hundred persons fell in the pro- 
scription of Sylla, all men of education and fortune. The 
real crime of many of them was the possession of an estate 
or a wife which a relative or a neighbour coveted. The 
crime alleged against all was the opinion that the people 
of Rome and Italy had rights which deserved considera- 
tion as well as the senators and nobles. The liberal party 
were extinguished in their own blood. Their estates were 

JO JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 84-78 

partitioned into a hundred and twenty thousand allot- 
ments, which were distributed among Sylla's friends, or 
soldiers, or freedmen. The Land reform of the Gracchi 
was mockingly adopted to create a permanent aristocratic 
garrison. There were no trials, there were no pardons. 
Common report or private information was at once indict- 
ment and evidence, and accusation was in itself condemna- 

The ground being thus cleared, the Dictator took up 
again his measures of political reform. He did not at- 
tempt a second time to take the franchise from the Italians. 
Romans and Italians he was ready to leave on the same 
level, but it was to be a level of impotence. Rome was to 
be ruled by the Senate, and as a first step, and to protect 
the Senate's dignity, he enfranchised ten thousand slaves 
who had belonged to the proscribed gentlemen, and 
formed them into a senatorial guard. Before departing 
for the East, he had doubled the Senate's numbers out of 
the patrician order. Under Cinna the new members had 
not claimed their privilege, and had probably been absent 
from Italy. They were now installed in their places, and 
the power of the censors to revise the list and remove 
those who had proved unworthy was taken away. The 
senators were thus peers for life, peers in a single chamber 
which Sylla meant tc make omnipotent. Vacancies were 
to be supplied as before from the retiring consuls, praetors, 
aediles, and quaestors. The form of a popular constitution 
would remain, since the road into the council of State lay 
through the popular elections. But to guard against 
popular favourites rinding access to the consulship, a pro- 
vision was made that no person who had been a tribune of 
the people could be chosen afterward to any other office. 

The Senate's power depended on the withdrawal from 
the assembly of citizens of the right of original legislation. 
So long as the citizens could act immediately at the invita- 
tion of either consul or tribune they could repeal at their 
pleasure any arrangement which Sylla might prescribe. 
As a matter of course, therefore, he re-enacted the con- 

B. c. 84-78] SYLLA'S REFORMS 7 1 

dition which restricted the initiation of laws to the Senate. 
The tribunes still retained their veto, but a penalty was 
attached to the abuse of the veto; the Senate being the 
judge in its own cause, and possessing the right to depose 
a tribune. 

In the Senate so reconstituted was thus centred a com- 
plete restrictive control over the legislation and the admin- 
istration. And this was not all. The senators had been 
so corrupt in the use of their judicial functions that Grac- 
chus had disabled them from sitting in the law courts, and 
had provided that the judges should be chosen in future 
from the Equites. The knights had been exceptionally 
pure in their office. Cicero challenged his opponents on 
the trial of Verres 5 to find a single instance in which an 
Equestrian court could be found to have given a corrupt 
verdict during the forty years for which their privilege 
survived. But their purity did not save them, nor, alas! 
those who were to suffer by a reversion to the old order. 
The Equestrian courts were abolished: the Senatorial 
courts were reinstated. It might be hoped that the sena- 
tors had profited by their lesson, and for the future would 
be careful of their reputation. 

Changes were made also in the modes of election to 
office. The College of Priests had been originally a close 
corporation, which filled up its own numbers. Democ- 
racy had thrown it open to competition, and given the 
choice to the people. Sylla reverted to the old rule. 
Consuls like Marius and Cinna, who had the confidence of 
the people, had been re-elected year after year, and had 
been virtual kings. Sylla provided that ten years must 
elapse between a first consulship and a second. Nor was 
anyone to be a consul who was not forty-three years old, 
and had not passed already through the lower senatorial 
offices of praetor or quaestor. 

The assembly of the people had been shorn of its legis- 
lative powers. There was no longer, therefore, any excuse 
for its meeting, save on special occasions. To leave the 
tribunes power to call the citizens to the Forum was to 

72 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 84-78 

leave them the means of creating inconvenient agitation. 
It was ordered, therefore, that the assembly should only 
come together at the Senate's invitation. The free grants 
of corn, which filled the city with idle vagrants, were abol- 
ished. Sylla never courted popularity and never shrank 
from fear of clamour. 

The Senate was thus made omnipotent and irrespon- 
sible. It had the appointment of all the governors of the 
provinces. It was surrounded by its own body-guard. 
It had the administration completely in hand. The mem- 
bers could be tried only by their peers, and were them- 
selves judges of every other order. No legal force was left 
anywhere to interfere with what it might please them to 
command. A senator was not necessarily a patrician, nor 
a patrician a senator. The Senate was, 6 or was to be as 
time wore on, a body composed of men of any order who 
had secured the suffrages of the people. But, as the value 
of the prize became so vast, the way to the possession of it 
was open practically to those only who had wealth or inter- 
est. The elections came to be worked by organized com- 
mittees; and, except in extraordinary circumstances, no 
candidate could expect success who had not the Senate's 
support, or who had not bought the services of the man- 
agers, at a cost within the reach only of the reckless spend- 
thrift or the speculating millionaire. 

What human foresight could do to prevent democracy 
from regaining the ascendency, Sylla had thus accom- 
plished. He had destroyed the opposition; he had re- 
organized the constitution on the most strictly conservative 
lines. He had built the fortress, as he said; it was now the 
Senate's part to provide a garrison; and here it was, as 
Caesar said afterward, that Sylla had made his great mis- 
take. His arrangements were ingenious, and many of 
them excellent; but the narrower the body to whose care 
the government was intrusted, the more important became 
the question of the composition of this body. The theory 
of election implied that they would be the best that the 
Republic possessed; but Sylla must have been himself 

b. c. 84-78] SERTORIUS IN SPAIN 73 

conscious that fact and theory might be very far from 

The key of the situation was the army. As before, no 
troops were to be maintained in Italy; but beyond the 
frontiers, the provinces were held by military force, and the 
only power which could rule the Empire was the power 
which the army would obey. It was not for the Senate's 
sake that Sylla's troops had followed him from Greece. 
It was from their personal devotion to himself. What 
charm was there in this new constructed aristocratic oli- 
garchy, that distant legions should defer to it — more than 
Sylla's legions had deferred to orders from Cinna and 
Carbo? Symptoms of the danger from this quarter were 
already growing even under the Dictator's own eyes, and 
at the height of his authority. Sertorius had escaped the 
proscription. After wandering in Africa, he made his way 
into Spain; where, by his genius as a statesman and a 
soldier, he rose into a position to defy the Senate and 
assert his independence. He organized the Peninsula 
after the Roman model; he raised armies, and defeated 
commander after commander who was sent to reduce him. 
He revived in the Spaniards a national enthusiasm for 
freedom. The Roman legionaries had their own opinions, 
and those whose friends Sylla had murdered preferred 
Sertorius and liberty to Rome and an aristocratic Senate. 
Unconquerable by honourable means, Sertorius was pois- 
oned at last. But his singular history suggests a doubt 
whether, if the Syllan constitution had survived, other 
Sertoriuses might not have sprung up in every province, 
and the Empire of Rome have gone to pieces like the 
Macedonian. The one condition of the continuance of 
the Roman dominion was the existence of a central 
authority which the army as a profession could respect; 
and the traditionary reverence which attached to the Ro- 
man Senate would scarcely have secured their disinter- 
ested attachment to five hundred elderly rich men who had 
bought their way into pre-eminence. 

Sylla did not live to see the significance of the Sertorian 

74 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 84-78 

revolt. He experienced, however, himself, in a milder 
form, an explosion of military sauciness. Young Pompey 
had been sent, after the occupation of Rome, to settle 
Sicily and Africa. He did his work well and rapidly, and 
when it was over he received orders from the Senate to dis- 
miss his troops. An order from Sylla, Pompey would 
have obeyed; but what was the Senate, that an ambitious 
brilliant youth with arms in his hands should send away 
an army devoted to him and step back into common life? 
Sylla himself had to smooth the ruffled plumes of his aspir- 
ing follower. He liked Pompey; he was under obliga- 
tions to him, and Pompey had not acted after all in a man- 
ner so very unlike his own. He summoned him home; 
but he gave him a triumph for his African conquests, and 
allowed him to call himself by the title of " Magnus " or 
" The Great." Pompey was a promising soldier, without 
political ambition, and was worth an effort to secure. To 
prevent the risk :of a second act of insubordination, 
Sylla made personal arrangements to attach Pom- 
pey directly to himself. He had a stepdaughter, 
named ^Emilia. She was already married, and was 
pregnant. Pompey too was married to Antistia, a 
lady of good family; but domestic ties were not al- 
lowed to stand in the way of higher objects. Nor did 
it matter that Antistia's father had been murdered by the 
Roman populace for taking Sylla's side, or that her mother 
had gone mad and destroyed herself, on her husband's 
horrible death. Late Republican Rome was not troubled 
with sentiment. Sylla invited Pompey to divorce An- 
tistia and marry ^Emilia. Pompey complied. Antistia 
was sent away. ^Emilia was divorced from her husband, 
and was brought into Pompey's house, where she imme- 
diately died. 

In another young man of high rank, whom Sylla at- 
tempted to attach to himself by similar means, he found 
less complaisance. Caesar was now eighteen: his daughter 
Julia having been lately born. He had seen his party 
ruined, his father-in-law and young Marius killed, and his 

B. c. 84-78] C^SAR AND SYLLA 75 

nearest friends dispersed or murdered. He had himself 
for a time escaped proscription; but the Dictator had his 
eye on him, and Sylla had seen something in " the youth 
with the loose girdle " which struck him as remarkable. 
Closely connected though Caesar was both with Cinna and 
Marius, Sylla did not wish to kill him, if he could help it. 
There was a cool calculation in his cruelties. The exist- 
ing generation of democrats was incurable, but he knew 
that the stability of the new constitution must depend on 
his being able to conciliate the intellect and energy of the 
next. Making a favour perhaps of his clemency, he 
proposed to Caesar to break with his liberal associ- 
ates, divorce Cinna's daughter, and take such a wife 
as he would himself provide. If Pompey had com- 
plied, who had made a position of his own, much 
more might it be expected that Caesar would com- 
ply. Yet Caesar answered with a distinct and un- 
hesitating refusal. The terrible Sylla, in the fulness of 
his strength, after desolating half the homes in Italy, after 
revolutionizing all Roman society, from the peasant's cot- 
tage in the Apennines to the senate house itself, was defied 
by a mere boy! Throughout his career Caesar displayed 
always a singular indifference to life. He had no senti- 
mental passion about him; no Byronic mock heroics. He 
had not much belief either in God or the gods. On all 
such questions he observed from first to last a profound 
silence. But one conviction he had. He intended if he 
was to live at all, to live master of himself in matters which 
belonged to himself. Sylla might kill him if he so pleased. 
It was better to die than to put away a wife who was the 
mother of his child, and to marry some other woman at a 
Dictator's bidding. Life on such terms was not worth 

So proud a bearing may have commanded Sylla's ad- 
miration, but it taught him, also, that a young man capa- 
ble of assuming an attitude so bold, might be dangerous 
to the rickety institutions which he had constructed so 
carefully. He tried coercion. He deprived Caesar of his 

76 julius c^ssar [ B . c. 84-78 

priesthood. He took his wife's dowry from him, and con- 
fiscated the estate which he had inherited from his father. 
When this produced no effect, the rebellious youth was 
made over to the assassins, and a price was set upon his 
head. He fled into concealment. He was discovered once, 
and escaped only by bribing Sylla's satellites. His fate 
would soon have overtaken him, but he had powerful rela- 
tions, whom Sylla did not care to offend. Aurelius Cotta, 
who was perhaps his mother's brother, Mamercus iEmilius, 
a distinguished patrician, and singularly also the College 
of the Vestal Virgins, interceded for his pardon. The 
Dictator consented at last, but with prophetic reluctance. 
" Take him," he said at length, " since you will have it so 
— but I would have you know that the youth for whom you 
are so earnest will one day overthrow the aristocracy, for 
whom you and I have fought so hardly; in this young 
Caesar there are many Mariuses." 7 Caesar, not trusting 
too much to Sylla's forbearance, at once left Italy, and 
joined the army in Asia. The little party of young men 
who had grown up together now separated, to meet in the 
future on altered terms. Caesar held to his inherited con- 
victions, remaining constant through good and evil to the 
cause of his uncle Marius. His companion Cicero, now 
ripening into manhood, chose the other side. With his 
talents for his inheritance, and confident in the conscious- 
ness of power, but with weak health and a neck as thin as 
a woman's, Cicero felt that he had a future before him, but 
that his successes must be won by other weapons than 
arms. He chose the bar for his profession; he resolved to 
make his way into popularity as a pleader before the Sen- 
ate courts and in the Forum. He looked to the Senate 
itself as the ultimate object of his ambition. There alone 
he could hope to be distinguished, if distinguished he was 
to be. 

Cicero, however, was no more inclined than Caesar to be 
subservient to Sylla, as he took an early opportunity of 
showing. It was to the cause of the constitution, and not 
to the person of the Dictator, that Cicero had attached 

B. c. 84-78] RETIREMENT OF SYLLA 77 

himself, and he, too, ventured to give free expression to his 
thoughts when free speech was still dangerous. 

Sylla's career was drawing to its close, and the end was 
not the least remarkable feature of it. On him had fallen 
the odium of the proscription and the stain of the massa- 
cres. The sooner the senators could be detached from the 
soldier who had saved them from destruction, the better 
chance they would have of conciliating quiet people on 
whose support they must eventually rely. Sylla himself 
felt the position; and having completed what he had under- 
taken, with a half-pitying, half-contemptuous self-aban- 
donment, he executed what from the first he had intended; 
he resigned the Dictatorship, and became a private citizen 
again, amusing the leisure of his age, as he had abused the 
leisure of his youth, with theatres, and actresses, and din- 
ner-parties. He too, like so many of the great Romans, 
was indifferent to life; of power for the sake of power he 
was entirely careless; and if his retirement had been more 
dangerous to him than it really was, he probably would 
not have postponed it. He was a person of singular char- 
acter, and not without many qualities which were really ad- 
mirable. He was free from any touch of charlatanry. He 
was true, simple, and unaffected, and even without ambi- 
tion in the mean and personal sense. His fault, which he 
would have denied to be a fault, was that he had a patrician 
disdain of mobs and suffrages and the cant of popular 
liberty. The type repeats itself era after era. Sylla was 
but Graham of Claverhouse in a Roman dress and with 
an ampler stage. His courage in laying down his au- 
thority has been often commented on, but the risk which 
he incurred was insignificant. There was in Rome neither 
soldier nor statesman who could for a moment be placed 
in competition with Sylla, and he was so passionately loved 
by the army, he was so sure of the support of his comrades, 
whom he had quartered on the proscribed lands, and who, 
for their own interest's sake, would resist attempts at 
counter-revolution, that he knew that if an emergency 
arose he had but to lift his finger to reinstate himself in 

78 JULIUS C^iSAR [b. c. 84-78 

command. Of assassination he was in no greater danger 
than when Dictator, while the temptation to assassinate 
him was less. His influence was practically undiminished, 
and as long as he lived, he remained, and could not but 
remain, the first person in the Republic. 

Some license of speech he was, of course, prepared for, 
but it required no small courage to make a public attack 
either on himself or his dependents, and it was, therefore, 
most creditable to Cicero that his first speech of impor- 
tance was directed against the Dictator's immediate 
friends, and was an exposure of the iniquities of the pro- 
scription. Cicero, no doubt, knew that there would be no 
surer road to favour with the Roman multitude than by de- 
nouncing Sylla's followers, and that, young and unknown 
as he was, his insignificance might protect him, however 
far he ventured. But he had taken the Senate's side. 
From first to last he had approved of the reactionary con- 
stitution, and had only condemned the ruthless methods 
by which it had been established. He never sought the 
popularity of a demagogue, or appealed to popular pas- 
sions, or attempted to create a prejudice against the aris- 
tocracy, into whose ranks he intended to make his way. 
He expressed the opinions of the respectable middle 
classes, who had no sympathy with revolutionists, but who 
dreaded soldiers and military rule and confiscations of 

The occasion on which Cicero came forward was char- 
acteristic of the time. Sextus Roscius was a country gen- 
tleman of good position, residing near Ameria, in Umbria. 
He had been assassinated when on a visit to Rome by two 
of his relations, who wished to get possession of his estate. 
The proscription was over and the list had been closed; 
but Roscius's name was surreptitiously entered upon it, 
with the help of Sylla's favourite freedman, Chrysogonus. 
The assassins obtained an acknowledgment of their claims, 
and they and Chrysogonus divided the spoils. Sextus 
Roscius was entirely innocent. He had taken no part in 
politics at all. He had left a son, who was his natural 

b. c. 84-78] DEATH OF SYLLA 79 

heir, and the township of Ameria sent up a petition to 
Sylla remonstrating against so iniquitous a robbery. The 
conspirators, finding themselves in danger of losing the re- 
ward of their crime, shifted their ground. They denied 
that they had themselves killed Sextus Roscius. They 
said that the son had done it, and they charged him with 
parricide. Witnesses were easily provided. No influential 
pleader, it was justly supposed, would venture into an- 
tagonism with Sylla's favourite, and appear for the defence. 
Cicero heard of the case, however, and used the oppor- 
tunity to bring himself into notice. He advocated young 
Roscius's cause with skill and courage. He told the whole 
story in court without disguise. He did not blame Sylla. 
He compared Sylla to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, who 
was sovereign of the Universe, and on the whole a good 
sovereign, but with so much business on his hands that he 
had not time to look into details. But Cicero denounced 
Chrysogonus as an accomplice in an act of atrocious vil- 
lainy. The court took the same view, and the rising ora- 
tor had the honour of clearing the reputation of the in- 
jured youth, and of recovering his property for him. 

Sylla showed no resentment, and probably felt none. 
He lived for a year after his retirement, and died 78 B. C, 
being occupied at the moment in writing his memoirs, 
which have been unfortunately lost. He was buried gor- 
geously in the Campus Martius, among the old kings of 
Rome. The aristocrats breathed freely when delivered 
from his overpowering presence, and the constitution 
which he had set upon its feet was now to be tried. 


1 Page 62. " Nigris vegetisque oculis." — Suetonius. 

3 Page 63. " Ac primum illud tempus familiaritatis et consuetudinis, 
quae mihi cum illo, quae fratri meo, quae Caio Varroni, consobrino nos- 
tro, ab omnium nostrum adolescentia fuit, praetermitto."— Cicero, De 
Provinciis Consularibus, 17. Cicero was certainly speaking of a time 
which preceded Sylla's dictatorship, for Caesar left Rome immediately 
after it, and when he came back he attached himself to the political 
party to which Cicero was most opposed. 

80 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 84-78 

3 Page 66. On the Adriatic, between Ancona and Pescara. 

4 Page 66. See, for the story of Oppianicus, the remarkable speech of 
Cicero, Pro Cleuntio. 

6 Page 71. Appian, on the other hand, says that the Courts of the 
Equites had been more corrupt than the Senatorial courts. — De Bello 
Civili, i. 22. Cicero was, perhaps, prejudiced in favour of his own 
order ; but a contemporary statement thus publicly made is far more 
likely to be trustworthy. 

6 Page 72. Sylla had himself nominated a large number of senators. 

1 Page 76. So says Suetonius, reporting the traditions of the following 
century, but the authority is doubtful ; and the story, like so many 
others, is perhaps apocryphal. 


THE able man of the democracy had fallen in the pro- 
scription. Sertorius, the only eminent surviving 
soldier belonging to them, was away, making him- 
self independent in Spain. The rest were all killed. But the 
Senate, too, had lost in Sylla the single statesman that they 
possessed. They were a body of mediocrities, left with ab- 
solute power in their hands, secure as they supposed from 
further interference, and able to return to those pleasant 
occupations which for a time had been so rudely inter- 
rupted. Sertorius was an awkward problem with which 
Pompey might perhaps be intrusted to deal. No one knew 
as yet what stuff might be in Pompey. He was for the 
present sunning himself in his military splendours; too 
young to come forward as a politician, and destitute, so 
far as appeared, of political ambition. If Pompey prom- 
ised to be docile, he might be turned to use at a proper 
time; but the aristocracy had seen too much of successful 
military commanders, and were in no hurry to give op- 
portunities of distinction to a youth who had so saucily de- 
fied them. Sertorius was far off, and could be dealt with 
at leisure. 

In his defence of Roscius, Cicero had given an admon- 
ition to the noble lords that, unless they mended their 
ways, they 1 could not look for any long continuance. 
They regarded Cicero perhaps, if they heard what he said 
of them, as an inexperienced young man, who would under- 
stand better by and by of what materials the world was 
made. There had been excitement and anxiety enough. 
Conservatism was in power again. Fine gentlemen could 
once more lounge in their clubs, amuse themselves with 
their fish-ponds and horses and mistresses, devise new and 
6 81 

82 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 78-70 

ever new means of getting money and spending it, and 
leave the Roman Empire for the present to govern itself. 

The leading public men belonging to the party in power 
had all served in some capacity or other with Sylla or un- 
der him. Of those whose names deserve particular men- 
tion there were at most five. 

Licinius Lucullus had been a special favourite of Sylla. 
The Dictator left him his executor, with the charge of his 
manuscripts. Lucullus was a commoner, but of consular 
family, and a thorough-bred aristocrat. He had endeared 
himself to Sylla by a languid talent which could rouse itself 
when necessary into brilliant activity, by the easy culture 
of a polished man of rank, and by a genius for luxury, 
which his admirers followed at a distance, imitating their 
master but hopeless of overtaking him. 

Csecilius Metellus, son of the Metellus whom Marius had 
superseded in Africa, had been consul with Sylla in 80 
B. C. He was now serving in Spain against Sertorius, 
and was being gradually driven out of the Peninsula. 

Lutatius Catulus was a proud but honest patrician, with 
the conceit of his order,but without their vices. His father, 
who had been Marius's colleague, and had been defeated 
by the Cimbri, had killed himself during the Marian revo- 
lution. The son had escaped, and was one of the consuls 
at the time of Sylla's death. 

More noticeable than either of these was Marcus Cras- 
sus, a figure singularly representative, of plebeian family, 
but a family long adopted into the closest circle of the aris- 
tocracy, the leader and impersonation of the great mon- 
eyed classes in Rome. Wealth had for several genera- 
tions been the characteristic of the Crassi. They had the 
instinct and the temperament which in civilized ages take 
to money-making as a natural occupation. In politics 
they aimed at being on the successful side; but living, as 
they did, in an era of revolutions, they were surprised oc- 
casionally in unpleasant situations. Crassus the Rich, 
father of Marcus, had committed himself against Marius, 
and had been allowed the privilege of being his own exe- 

B. c. 78-70] CRASSUS AND LEPIDUS 83 

cutioner. Marcus himself, who was a little older than 
Cicero, took refuge in Sylla's camp. He made himself 
useful to the Dictator by his genius for finance, and in re- 
turn he was enabled to amass an enormous fortune for 
himself out of the proscriptions. His eye for business 
reached over the whole Roman Empire. He was banker, 
speculator, contractor, merchant. He lent money to the 
spendthrift young lords, but with sound securities and at 
usurious interest. He had an army of slaves — but these 
slaves were not ignorant field hands; they were skilled 
workmen in all arts and trades, whose labours he turned to 
profit in building streets and palaces. Thus all that he 
touched turned to gold. He was the wealthiest single 
individual in the whole Empire, the acknowledged head 
of the business world of Rome. 

The last person who need be noted was Marcus ^Emilius 
Lepidus, the father of the future colleague of Augustus 
and Antony. Lepidus, too, had been an officer of Sylla's. 
He had been rewarded for his services by the government 
of Sicily, and when Sylla died was the second consul with 
Catulus. It was said against him that, like so many other 
governors, he had enriched himself by tyrannizing over his 
Sicilian subjects. His extortions had been notorious; he 
was threatened with prosecution as soon as his consulship 
should expire; and the adventure to which he was about 
to commit himself was undertaken, so the aristocrats after- 
wards maintained, in despair of an acquittal. Lepidus's 
side of the story was never told, but another side it cer- 
tainly had. Though one of Sylla's generals, he had mar- 
ried the daughter of the tribune Saturninus. He had been 
elected consul by a very large majority against the wishes 
of the Senate, and was suspected of holding popular opin- 
ions. It may be that the prosecution was an afterthought 
of revenge, and that Lepidus was to have been tried before 
a senatorial jury already determined to find him guilty. 

Among these men lay the fortunes of Rome, when the 
departure of their chief left the aristocrats masters of their 
own destiny. 

84 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 78-70 

During this time Caesar had been serving his apprentice- 
ship as a soldier. The motley forces which Mithridates 
had commanded had not all submitted on the king's sur- 
render to Sylla. Squadrons of pirates hung yet about the 
smaller islands in the iEgean. Lesbos was occupied by 
adventurers, who were fighting for their own hand, and 
the praetor Minucius Thermus had been sent to clear the 
seas and extirpate these nests of brigands. To Thermus 
Caesar had attached himself. The praetor, finding that his 
fleet was not strong enough for the work, found it neces- 
sary to apply to Nicomedes, the allied sovereign of the ad- 
joining kingdom of Bithynia, to supply him with a few 
additional vessels; and Caesar, soon after his arrival, was 
despatched on this commission to the Bithynian court. 

Long afterwards, when Roman cultivated society had 
come to hate Caesar, and any scandal was welcome to them 
which would make him odious, it was reported that on this 
occasion he entered into certain relations with Nicomedes 
of a kind indisputably common at the time in the highest 
patrician circles. The value of such a charge in political 
controversy was considerable, for whether true or false it 
was certain to be believed; and similar accusations were 
flung indiscriminately, so Cicero says, at the reputation of 
every eminent person whom it was desirable to stain, if his 
personal appearance gave the story any air of probability. 2 

The disposition to believe evil of men who have risen a 
few degrees above their contemporaries is a feature of 
human nature as common as it is base; and when to envy 
there are added fear and hatred, malicious anecdotes spring 
like mushrooms in a forcing-pit. But gossip is not evi- 
dence, nor does it become evidence because it is in Latin 
and has been repeated through many generations. The 
strength of the chain is no greater than the strength of its 
first link, and the adhesive character of calumny proves 
only that the inclination of average men to believe the 
worst of great men is the same in all ages. This particular 
accusation against Caesar gains, perhaps, a certain credi- 
bility from the admission that it was the only occasion on 

B. c. 7S-70] C^SAR RETURNS TO ROME 85 

which anything of the kind could be alleged against him. 
On the other hand, it was unheard of for near a quarter of 
a century. It was produced in Rome in the midst of a 
furious political contest. No witnesses were forthcoming, 
no one who had been in Bithynia at the time, no one who 
ever pretended to have original knowledge of the truth of 
the story. Caesar himself passed it by with disdain, or 
alluded to it, if forced upon his notice, with contemptuous 

The Bithynian mission was otherwise successful. He 
brought the ships to Thermus. He distinguished himself 
personally in the storming of Mitylene, and won the oak 
wreath, the Victoria Cross of the Roman army. Still pur- 
suing the same career, Caesar next accompanied Servilius 
Isauricus in a campaign against the horde of pirates, after- 
wards so famous, that was forming itself among the creeks 
and river mouths of Cilicia. The advantages which Ser- 
vilius obtained over them were considerable enough to de- 
serve a triumph, but were barren of result. The news that 
Sylla was dead reached the army while still in the field; 
and the danger of appearing in Rome being over, Caesar 
at once left Cilicia and went back to his family. Other 
causes are said to have contributed to hasten his return. 
A plot had been formed, with the consul Lepidus at its 
head, to undo Sylla's laws and restore the constitution of 
the Gracchi. Caesar had been urged by letter to take part 
in the movement; and he may have hurried home, either 
to examine the prospects of success, or perhaps to prevent 
an attempt, which, under the circumstances, he might 
think criminal and useless. Lepidus was not a wise man, 
though he may have been an honest one. The aristocracy 
had not yet proved that they were incapable of reform. 
It might be that they would digest their lesson after all, 
and that for a generation to come no more revolutions 
would be necessary. 

Caesar at all events declined to connect himself with this 
new adventure. He came to Rome, looked at what was 
going on, and refused to have anything to do with it. The 

S6 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 78-70 

experiment was tried without him. Young Cinna, his 
brother-in-law, joined Lepidus. Together they raised a 
force in Etruria, and marched on Rome. They made their 
way into the city, but were met in the Campus Martius by 
Pompey and the other consul, Catulus, at the head of 
some of Sylla's old troops; and an abortive enterprise, 
which, if it had succeeded, would probably have been mis- 
chievous, was ended almost as soon as it began. The two 
leaders escaped. Cinna joined Sertorius in Spain. Lepi- 
dus made his way to Sardinia, where, in the next year, he 
died, leaving a son to play the game of democracy under 
more brilliant auspices. 

Caesar meanwhile felt his way, as Cicero was doing in 
the law courts, attacking the practical abuses, which the 
Roman administration was generating everywhere. Cor- 
nelius Dolabella had been placed by Sylla in command of 
Macedonia. His father had been a friend of Saturninus, 
and had fallen at his side. The son had gone over to the 
aristocracy, and for this reason was perhaps an object of 
aversion to the younger liberals. The Macedonians pur- 
sued him, when his government had expired, with a list of 
grievances of the usual kind. Young Caesar took up their 
cause, and prosecuted him. Dolabella was a favourite of 
the Senate; he had been allowed a triumph for his services, 
and the aristocracy adopted his cause as their own. The 
unpractised orator was opposed at the trial by his kins- 
man, Aurelius Cotta, and the most celebrated pleaders in 
Rome. To have crossed swords with such opponents was 
a dangerous honour for him — success against them was not 
to be expected, and Caesar was not yet master of his art. 
Dolabella was acquitted. Party feeling had perhaps en- 
tered into the accusation. Caesar found it prudent to 
retire again from the scene. There were but two roads 
to eminence in Rome, oratory and service in the army. 
He had no prospect of public employment from the pres- 
ent administration, and the platform alone was open to 
him. Plain words with a plain meaning in them no longer 
carried weight with a people who expected an orator to 


delight as well as instruct them. The use of the tongue 
had become a special branch of a statesman's education; 
and Caesar, feeling his deficiency, used his leisure to put 
himself in training, and go to school at Rhodes, with the 
then celebrated Apollonius Molo. He had recovered his 
property and his priesthood, and was evidently in no want 
of money. He travelled with the retinue of a man of rank, 
and on his way to Rhodes he fell in with an adventure 
which may be something more than legend. When he was 
crossing the iEgean, his vessel is said to have been taken 
by pirates. They carried him to Pharmacusa, 3 an island 
off the Carian coast, which was then in their possession; 
and there he was detained for six weeks with three of his 
attendants, while the rest of his servants were sent to the 
nearest Roman station to raise his ransom. The pirates 
treated him with politeness. He joined in their sports, 
played games with them, looked into their habits, and 
amused himself with them as well as he could, frankly tell- 
ing them at the same time that they would all be hanged. 

The ransom, a very large one, about io,oool, was 
brought and paid. Caesar was set upon the mainland 
near Miletus, where, without a moment's delay, he col- 
lected some armed vessels, returned to the island, seized 
the whole crew while they were dividing their plunder, 
and took them away to Pergamus, the seat of government 
in the Asiatic province, where they were convicted and 
crucified. Clemency was not a Roman characteristic. It 
was therefore noted, with some surprise, that Caesar inter- 
ceded to mitigate the severity of the punishment. The 
poor wretches were strangled before they were stretched 
on their crosses, and were spared the prolongation of their 
torture. The pirate business being disposed of, he re- 
sumed his journey to Rhodes, and there he continued for 
two years practising gesture and expression under the 
tuition of the great master. 

During this time the government of Rome was making 
progress in again demonstrating its unfitness for the duties 
which were laid upon it, and sowing the seeds which in 

88 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 78-70 

a few years were to ripen into a harvest so remarkable. 
Two alternatives only lay before the Roman dominion — 
either disruption or the abolition of the constitution. If 
the aristocracy could not govern, still less could the mob 
govern. The Latin race was scattered over the basin of 
the Mediterranean, no longer bound by any special ties to 
Rome or Italy, each man of it individually vigorous and 
energetic, and bent before all things on making his own 
fortune. If no tolerable administration was provided from 
home, their obvious course could only be to identify them- 
selves with local interests and nationalities, and make them- 
selves severally independent, as Sertorius was doing in 
Spain. Sertorius was at last disposed of, but by methods 
promising ill for the future. He beat Metellus till Metel- 
lus could do no more against him. The all-victorious 
Pompey was sent at last to win victories and gain nothing 
by them. Six campaigns led to no result, and the diffi- 
culty was only removed at last by treachery and assassina- 

A more extraordinary and more disgraceful phenome- 
non was the growth of piracy, with the skirts of which 
Caesar had come in contact at Pharmacusa. The Romans 
had become masters of the world only that the sea from 
one end of their dominions to the other should be patrolled 
by organized rovers. For many years, as Roman com- 
merce extended, the Mediterranean had become a profit- 
able field of enterprise for these gentry. From every 
country which they had overrun or occupied the conquests 
of the Romans had let loose swarms of restless patriots 
who, if they could not save the liberties of their own coun- 
tries, could prey upon the oppressor. Illyrians from the 
Adriatic, Greeks from the islands and the Asiatic ports, 
Syrians, Egyptians, Africans, Spaniards, Gauls, and dis- 
affected Italians, trained many of them to the sea from 
their childhood, took to the water in their light galleys 
with all the world before them. Under most circumstances 
society is protected against thieves by their inability to 
combine. But the pirates of the Mediterranean had learnt 

b. c. 78-70] GROWTH OF PIRACY 89 

from the Romans the advantage of union, and had drifted 
into a vast confederation. Cilicia was their headquarters. 
Servilius had checked them for a time; but the Roman 
Senate was too eager for a revenue, and the Roman gov- 
ernors and farmers of the taxes were too bent upon filling 
their private purses, to allow fleets to be maintained in the 
provincial harbours adequate to keep the peace. When 
Servilius retired, the pirates reoccupied their old haunts. 
The Cilician forests furnished them with ship timber. The 
mountain gorges provided inaccessible storehouses for 
plunder. Crete was completely in their hands also; and 
they had secret friends along the entire Mediterranean 
shores. They grew at last into a thousand sail, divided 
into squadrons, under separate commanders. They were 
admirably armed. They rowed over the waters at their 
pleasure, attacking islands or commercial ports, plunder- 
ing temples and warehouses, arresting every trading vessel 
they encountered, till at last no Roman could go abroad 
on business, save during the winter storms, when the sea 
was comparatively clear. They flaunted their sails in 
front of Ostia itself; they landed in their boats at the villas 
on the Italian coast, carrying off lords and ladies, and hold- 
ing them to ransom. They levied black-mail at their pleas- 
ure. The wretched provincials had paid their taxes to 
Rome in exchange for promised defence, and no defence 
was provided. 4 The revenue which ought to have been 
spent on the protection of the Empire, a few patricians 
were dividing among themselves. The pirates had even 
marts in different islands, where their prisoners were sold 
to the slave-dealers; and for fifteen years nothing was done 
or even attempted to put an end to so preposterous an 
enormity. The ease with which these buccaneers of the 
Old World were eventually suppressed proved conclusively 
that they existed by connivance. It was discovered at last 
that large sums had been sent regularly from Crete to some 
of the most distinguished members of the aristocracy. 
The Senate was again the same body which it was found 
by Jugurtha, and the present generation were happier 

90 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 78-70 

than their fathers in that larger and richer fields were now 
open to their operation. 

While the pirates were at work on the extremities, the 
senators in the provinces were working systematically, 
squeezing the people as one might squeeze a sponge of all 
the wealth that could be drained out of them. After the 
failure of Lepidus, the elections in Rome were wholly in 
the Senate's hands. Such independence as had not been 
crushed was corrupted. The aristocracy divided the con- 
sulships, prsetorships, and qusestorships among them- 
selves, and after the year of office the provincial prizes 
were then distributed. Of the nature of their govern- 
ment a picture has been left by Cicero, himself one of the 
senatorial party, and certainly not to be suspected of hav- 
ing represented it as worse than it was in the famous prose- 
cution of Verres. There is nothing to show that Verres 
was worse than the rest of his order. Piso, Gabinius, and 
many others equalled, or perhaps excelled, him in villainy. 
But historical fate required a victim, and the unfortunate 
wretch has been selected out of the crowd individually to 
illustrate his class. 

By family he was connected with Sylla. His father was 
noted as an election manager at the Comitia. The son 
had been attached to Carbo when the democrats were in 
power, but he had deserted them on Sylla's return. He 
had made himself useful in the proscriptions, and had 
scraped together a considerable fortune. He was em- 
ployed afterwards in Greece and Asia, where he distin- 
guished himself by fresh rapacity, and by the gross bru- 
tality with which he abused an innocent lady. With the 
wealth which he had extorted or stolen he bought his 
way into the prsetorship, probably with his father's help; 
he then became a senator, and was sent to govern Sicily — 
a place which had already suffered, so the Senate said, from 
the malpractices of Lepidus, and needing, therefore, to be 
generously dealt with. 

Verres held his province for three years. He was su- 
preme judge in all civil and criminal cases. He negotiated 

B. c. 78-70] VERRES 91 

with the parties to every suit which was brought before 
him, and then sold his decisions. He confiscated estates 
on fictitious accusations. The island was rich in works of 
art. Verres had a taste for such things, and seized with- 
out scruple the finest productions of Praxiteles or Zeuxis. 
If those who were wronged dared to complain, they were 
sent to forced labour at the quarries, or, as dead men tell 
no tales, were put out of the world. He had an under- 
standing with the pirates, which throws light upon the 
secret of their impunity. A shipful of them were brought 
into Messina as prisoners, and were sentenced to be exe- 
cuted. A handsome bribe was paid to Verres, and a num- 
ber of Sicilians whom he wished out of the way were 
brought out, veiled and gagged, that they might not be 
recognised, and were hanged as the pirates' substitutes. 
By these methods Verres was accused of having gathered 
out of Sicily three-quarters of a million of our money. 
Two-thirds he calculated on having to spend in corrupting 
the consuls, and the court before which he might be prose- 
cuted. The rest he would be able to save, and with the 
help of it to follow his career of greatness through the' 
highest offices of State. Thus he had gone on upon his 
way, secure, as he supposed, of impunity. One of the con- 
suls for the year and the consuls for the year which was to 
come next were pledged to support him. The judges 
would be exclusively senators, each of whom might re- 
quire assistance in a similar situation. The chance of jus- 
tice on these occasions was so desperate that the provin- 
cials preferred usually to bear their wrongs in silence 
rather than expose themselves to expense and danger for 
almost certain failure. But, as Cicero said, the whole 
world inside the ocean was ringing with the infamy of the 
Roman senatorial tribunals. 

Cicero, whose honest wish was to save the Senate from 
itself, determined to make use of Verres' conduct to shame 
the courts into honesty. Every difficulty was thrown in 
his way. He went in person to Sicily to procure evidence. 
He was browbeaten and threatened with violence. The 

92 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 78-70 

witnesses were intimidated, and in some instances were 
murdered. The technical ingenuities of Roman law were 
exhausted to shield the culprit. The accident that the sec- 
ond consul had a conscience alone enabled Cicero to force 
the criminal to the bar. But the picture which Cicero 
drew and laid before the people, proved as it was to every 
detail, and admitting of no answer save that other gov- 
ernors had been equally iniquitous and had escaped unpun- 
ished, created a storm which the Senate dared not encoun- 
ter. Verres dropped his defence, and fled, and part of his 
spoils was recovered. There was no shame in the aristoc- 
racy to prevent them from committing crimes: there was 
enough to make them abandon a comrade who was so un- 
fortunate as to be detected and brought to justice. 

This was the state of the Roman dominion under the 
constitution as reformed by Sylla: the Spanish Peninsula 
recovered by murder to temporary submission; the sea 
abandoned to buccaneers; decent industrious people in the 
provinces given over to have their fortunes stolen from 
them, their daughters dishonoured, and themselves beaten 
or killed if they complained, by a set of wolves calling 
themselves Roman senators — and these scenes not local- 
ized to any one unhappy district, but extending through 
the entire civilized part of mankind. There was no hope 
for these unhappy people, for they were under the tyranny 
of a dead hand. A bad king is like a bad season. The 
next may bring improvement, or, if his rule is wholly in- 
tolerable, he can be deposed. Under a bad constitution 
no such change is possible. It can be ended only by a 
revolution. Republican Rome had become an Imperial 
State — she had taken upon herself the guardianship of 
every country in the world where the human race was in- 
dustrious and prosperous, and she was discharging her 
great trust by sacrificing them to the luxury and ambition 
of a few hundred scandalous politicians. 

The nature of man is so constructed that a constitution 
so administered must collapse. It generates faction 
within, it invites enemies from without. While Sertorius 

B. c. 78-70] MITHRIDATES AGAIN 93 

was defying the Senate in Spain, and the pirates were buy- 
ing its connivance in the Mediterranean, Mithridates 
started into life again in Pontus. Sylla had beaten him 
into submission; but Sylla was gone, and no one was left 
to take Sylla's place. The watchful barbarian had his 
correspondents in Rome, and knew everything that was 
passing there. He saw that he had little to fear by trying 
the issue with the Romans once more. He made him- 
self master of Armenia. In the corsair fleet he had an ally 
ready made. The Roman province in Asia Minor, driven 
to despair by the villainy of its governors, was ripe for 
revolt. Mithridates rose, and but for the young Caesar 
would a second time have driven the Romans out of Asia. 
Caesar, in the midst of his rhetorical studies at Rhodes, 
heard the mutterings of the coming storm. Deserting 
Apollonius's lecture room, he crossed over to the conti- 
nent, raised a corps of volunteers, and held Caria to its alle- 
giance; but Mithridates possessed himself easily of the in- 
terior kingdoms, and of the whole valley of the Euphrates 
to the Persian Gulf. The Black Sea was again covered 
with his ships. He defeated Cotta in a naval battle, drove 
him through the Bosphorus, and destroyed the Roman 
squadron. The Senate exerted itself at last. Lucullus, 
Sylla's friend, the only moderately able man that the aris- 
tocracy had among them, was sent to encounter him. 
Lucullus had been trained in a good school, and the superi- 
ority of the drilled Roman legions when tolerably led again 
easily asserted itself. Mithridates was forced back into the 
Armenian hills. The Black Sea was swept clear, and eight 
thousand of the buccaneers were killed at Sinope. Lucul- 
lus pursued the retreating prince across the Euphrates, 
won victories, took cities and pillaged them. He reached 
Lake Van, he marched round Mount Ararat, and advanced 
to Artaxata. But Asia was a scene of dangerous tempta- 
tion for a Roman commander. Cicero, though he did not 
name Lucullus, was transparently alluding to him when he 
told the assembly in the Forum that Rome had made her- 
self abhorred throughout the world by the violence and 

94 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 78-70 

avarice of her generals. No temple had been so sacred, 
no city so venerable, no houses so well protected, as to be 
secure from their voracity. Occasions of war had been 
caught at with rich communities, where plunder was the 
only object. The proconsuls could win battles, but they 
could not keep their hands from off the treasures of their 
allies and subjects. 5 

Lucullus was splendid in his rapacity, and amidst his vic- 
tories he had amassed the largest fortune which had yet 
belonged to patrician or commoner, except Crassus. 
Nothing came amiss to him. He had sold the commissions 
in his army. He had taken money out of the treasury for 
the expenses of the campaign. Part he had spent in brib- 
ing the administration to prolong his command beyond 
the usual time; the rest he had left in the city to accumu- 
late for himself at interest. 6 He lived on the plunder of 
friend and foe; and the defeat of Mithridates was never 
more than a second object to him. The one steady pur- 
pose in which he never varied was to pile up gold and 

An army so organized and so employed soon loses effi- 
ciency and coherence. The legions, perhaps considering 
that they were not allowed a fair share of the spoil, muti- 
nied. The disaffection was headed by young Publius 
Clodius, whose sister Lucullus had married. The cam- 
paign which had opened brilliantly ended ignominiously. 
The Romans had to fall back behind Pontus, closely pur- 
sued by Mithridates. Lucullus stood on the defensive till 
he was recalled, and then he returned to Rome to lounge 
away the remainder of his days in voluptuous mag- 

While Lucullus was making his fortune in the East, a 
spurt of insurrectionary fire had broken out in Italy. The 
Agrarian laws and Sylla's proscriptions and confiscations 
had restored the numbers of the small proprietors, but the 
statesmen who had been so eager for their reinstatement 
were fighting against tendencies too strong for them. 
Life on the farm, like life in the city, was growing yearly 

b. c. 78-70] THE GLADIATORS 95 

more extravagant. 7 The small peasants fell into debt. 
Sylla's soldiers were expensive, and became embarrassed. 
Thus the small properties artificially re-established were 
falling rapidly again into the market. The great land- 
owners bought them up, and Italy was once more lapsing 
to territorial magnates cultivating their estates by slaves. 

Vast gangs of slave labourers were thus still dispersed 
over the Peninsula, while others in large numbers were 
purchased and trained for the amusement of the metropolis. 
Society in Rome, enervated as it was by vicious pleasures, 
craved continually for new excitements. Sensuality is a 
near relation of cruelty; and the more savage the enter- 
tainments, the more delightful they were to the curled and 
scented particians who had lost the taste for fine enjoy- 
ments. Combats of wild beasts were at first sufficient 
for them, but to see men kill each other gave a keener de- 
light; and out of the thousands of youths who were sent 
over annually by the provincial governors, or were pur- 
chased from the pirates by the slave-dealers, the most 
promising were selected for the arena. Each great noble 
had his training establishment of gladiators, and was as 
vain of their prowess as of his race-horses. The schools 
of Capua were the most celebrated; and nothing so rec- 
ommended a candidate for the consulship to the electors 
as the production of a few pairs of Capuan swordsmen in 
the circus. 

These young men had hitherto performed their duties 
with more submissiveness than might have been expected, 
and had slaughtered one another in the most approved 
methods. But the horse knows by the hand on his rein 
whether he has a fool for his rider. The gladiators in the 
schools and the slaves on the plantations could not be kept 
wholly ignorant of the character of their rulers. They 
were aware that the seas were held by their friends, the 
pirates, and that their masters were again being beaten out 
of Asia, from which many of themselves had been carried 
off. They began to ask themselves why men who could 
use their swords should be slaves when their comrades and 

g6 JULIUS C^SSAR [b. c. 78-70 

kindred were up and fighting for freedom. They found a 
leader in a young Thracian robber chief, named Spartacus, 
who was destined for the amphitheatre, and who preferred 
meeting his masters in the field to killing his friends to 
make a Roman holiday. Spartacus, with two hundred of 
his companions, burst out from the Capuan " stable," 
seized their arms, and made their way into the crater of 
Vesuvius, which was then, after the long sleep of the vol- 
cano, a dense jungle of wild vines. The slaves from the 
adjoining plantations deserted and joined them. The fire 
spread, Spartacus proclaimed universal emancipation, and 
in a few weeks was at the head of an army with which he 
overran Italy to the foot of the Alps, defeated consuls and 
praetors, captured the eagles of the legions, wasted the 
farms of the noble lords, and for two years held his ground 
against all that Rome could do. 

Of all the illustrations of the Senate's incapacity, the 
slave insurrection was perhaps the worst. It was put 
down at last after desperate exertions by Crassus and Pom- 
pey. Spartacus was killed, and six thousand of his fol- 
lowers were impaled at various points on the sides of the 
highroads, that the slaves might have before their eyes 
examples of the effect of disobedience. The immediate 
peril was over; but another symptom had appeared of the 
social disease which would soon end in death, unless some 
remedy could be found. The nation was still strong. 
There was power and worth in the undegenerate Italian 
race, which needed only to be organized and ruled. But 
what remedy was possible? The practical choice of politi- 
cians lay between the Senate and the democracy. Both 
were alike bloody and unscrupulous; and the rule of the 
Senate meant corruption and imbecility, and the rule of the 
democracy meant anarchy. 


1 Page 81. " Unum hoc dico : nostri isti nobiles, nisi vigilantes et boni 
et fortes et misericordes erunt, iis hominibus in qnibus haec erunt, orna- 
menta sua concedant necesse est." — Pro Roscio Amerino, sec. 48. 

b. c 78-70] THE GLADIATORS 97 

2 Page 84. " Sunt enim ista maledicta pervulgata in omnes, quorum 
in adolescentia forma et species fuit liberalis." — Oratio pro Marco 

3 Page 87. Now Fermaco. 

4 Page 89. " Videbat enim populum Romanum non locupletari quo- 
tannis pecunia. publica praeter paucos : neque eos quidquam aliud 
assequi classium nomine, nisi ut, detriments accipiendis majore affici 
turpitudine videremur." — Cicero, Pro Lege Manilia, 23. 

5 Page 94. " Difficile est dictu, Quirites, quanto in odio simus apud 
exteras nationes, propter eorum, quos ad easperhosannoscum imperio 
misimus, injurias ac libidines. Quod enim fanum putatis in illis terris 
nostris magistratibus religiosum, quam civitatem sanctam, quam 
domum satis clausam ac munitam fuisse ? Urbes jam locupletes ac 
copiosse requiruntur, quibus causa belli propter diripiendi cupiditatem 
inferatur. . . Quare etiamsi quern habetis, qui collatis signis exercitus 
regios superare posse videatur, tamen, nisi erit idem, qui se a pecuniis 
sociorum, qui ab eorum conjugibus ac liberis, qui ab ornamentis fa- 
norum atque oppidorum, qui ab auro gazaque regia manus, oculos, 
animum cohibere possit, non erit idoneus, qui ad bellum Asiaticum 
regiumque mittatur." — Pro Lege Manilia, 22, 23. 

6 Page 94. " Quem possumus imperatorem aliquo in numero putare, 
cujus in exercitu veneant centuriatus atque venierint? Quid hunc 
hominem magnum aut amplum de republica cogitare, qui pecuniam ex 
serario depromtam ad bellum administrandum, aut propter cupiditatem 
provincial magistratibus diviserit aut propter avaritiam Romse in 
qusestu reliquerit? Vestra admurmuratio facit, Quirites, ut agnoscere 
videamini qui haec fecerint : ego autem neminem nomine" — Pro Lege 
Manilia, 13. 

7 Page 95. Varro mentions curious instances of the change in country 
manners. He makes an old man say that when he was a boy a farm- 
er's wife used to be content with a jaunt in a cart once or twice a year, 
the farmer not taking out the covered wagon (the more luxurious 
vehicle) at all unless he pleased. The farmer used to shave only once 
a week, etc. — M. Ter. Varronis Reliquiae, ed. Alexander Riese, pp. 139, 


CAESAR, having done his small piece of indepen- 
dent service in Caria, and having finished his 
course with Apollonius, now came again to Rome, 
and re-entered practical life. He lived with his wife and his 
mother Aurelia in a modest house, attracting no particular 
notice. But his defiance of Sylla, his prosecution of Dola- 
bella, and his known political sympathies, made him early 
a favourite with the people. The growing disorders at 
home and abroad, with the exposures on the trial of Verres, 
were weakening daily the influence of the Senate. Caesar 
was elected military tribune as a reward for his services in 
Asia, and he assisted in recovering part of the privileges 
so dear to the citizens which Sylla had taken from the trib- 
unes of the people. They were again enabled to call the 
assembly together, and though they were still unable to 
propose laws without the Senate's sanction, yet they re- 
gained the privilege of consulting directely with the na- 
tion on public affairs. Caesar now spoke well enough to 
command the admiration of even Cicero — without orna- 
ment, but directly to the purpose. Among the first uses 
to which he addressed his influence was to obtain the par- 
don of his brother-in-law, the younger Cinna, who had 
been exiled since the failure of the attempt of Lepidus. 
In B. C. 68, being then thirty-two, he gained his first step 
on the ladder of high office. He was made quaestor, which 
gave him a place in the Senate. 

Soon after his election, his aunt Julia, the widow of 
Marius, died. It was usual on the death of eminent per- 
sons for a near relation to make an oration at the funeral. 
Caesar spoke on this occasion. It was observed that he 
dwelt with some pride on the lady's ancestry, descending 
on one side from the gods, on another from the kings of 

9 8 


Rome. More noticeably he introduced into the burial 
procession the insignia and images of Marius himself, 
whose name for some years had been unsafe to mention. 1 

Pompey, after Sertorius's death, had pacified Spain. 
He had assisted Crassus in extinguishing Spartacus. The 
Senate had employed him, but had never liked him or 
trusted him. The Senate, however, was no longer omnip- 
otent, and in the year 70 he and Crassus had been consuls. 
Pompey was no politician, but he was honourable and 
straightforward. Like every true Roman, he was awake 
to the dangers and disgrace of the existing maladminis- 
tration, and he and Caesar began to know each other, and 
to find their interest in working together. Pompey was 
the elder of the two by six years. He was already a great 
man, covered with distinctions, and perhaps he supposed 
that he was rinding in Caesar a useful subordinate. Caesar 
naturally liked Pompey, as a really distinguished soldier 
and an upright, disinterested man. They became con- 
nected by marriage. Cornelia dying, Caesar took for his 
second wife Pompey's cousin, Pompeia; and, no doubt at 
Pompey's instance, he was sent into Spain to complete 
Pompey's work and settle the finances of that distracted 
country. His reputation as belonging to the party of 
Marius and Sertorius secured him the confidence of Ser- 
torius's friends. He accomplished his mission completely 
and easily. On his way back he passed through Northern 
Italy, and took occasion to say there that he considered the 
time to have come for the franchise, which now stopped at 
the Po, to be extended to the foot of the Alps. 

The consulship of Pompey and Crassus had brought 
many changes with it, all tending in the same direction. 
The tribunes were restored to their old functions, the cen- 
sorship was re-established, and the Senate was at once 
weeded of many of its disreputable members. Cicero, 
conservative as he was, had looked upon these measures if 
not approvingly yet without active opposition. To an- 
other change he had himself contributed by his speeches 
on the Verres prosecution. The exclusive judicial powers 

IOO JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 70-63 

which the senate had abused so scandalously were again 
taken from them. The courts of the Equites were remem- 
bered in contrast, and a law was passed that for the future 
the courts were to be composed two-thirds of knights and 
one-third only of senators. Cicero's hope of resisting 
democracy lay in the fusion of the great commoners with 
the Senate. It was no longer possible for the aristocracy 
to rule alone. The few Equites who, since Sylla's time, 
had made their way into the Senate had yielded to patri- 
cian ascendency. Cicero aimed at a reunion of the orders; 
and the consulship of Crassus, little as Cicero liked Cras- 
sus personally, was a sign of a growing tendency in this 
direction. At all costs the knights must be prevented 
from identifying themselves with the democrats, and there- 
fore all possible compliments and all possible concessions 
to their interests were made to them. 

They recovered their position in the law courts and, 
which was of more importance to them, the system of 
farming the taxes, in which so many of them had made 
their fortunes, and which Sylla had abolished, was once 
again reverted to. It was not a good system, but it was 
better than a state of things in which little of the revenue 
had reached the public treasury at all, but had been inter- 
cepted and parcelled out among the oligarchy. 

With recovered vitality a keener apprehension began to 
be felt of the pirate scandal. The buccaneers, encouraged 
by the Senate's connivance, were more daring than ever. 
They had became a sea community, led by high-born ad- 
venturers, who maintained out of their plunder a show of 
wild magnificence. The oars of the galleys of their com- 
manders were plated with silver; their cabins were hung 
with gorgeous tapestry. They had bands of music to play 
at their triumphs. They had a religion of their own, an 
oriental medley called the Mysteries of Mithras. They 
had captured and pillaged four hundred considerable 
towns, and had spoiled the temples of the Grecian gods. 
They had maintained and extended their depots where 
they disposed of their prisoners to the slave-dealers. Ro- 

B. c. 70-63] THE GABINIAN LAW 101 

man citizens who could not ransom themselves and could 
not conveniently be sold, were informed that they 
might go where they pleased; they were led to a 
plank projecting over some vessel's side, and were 
bidden depart — into the sea. Not contented with insult- 
ing Ostia by their presence outside, they had ventured into 
the harbour itself, and had burnt the ships there. They 
held complete possession of the Italian waters. Rome, 
depending on Sicily, and Sardinia, and Africa, for her sup- 
plies of corn, was starving for want of food; and the foreign 
trade on which so many of the middle classes were engaged 
was totally destroyed. The return of the commoners to 
power was a signal for an active movement to put an end 
to the disgrace. No one questioned that it could be done 
if there was a will to do it. But the work could be accom- 
plished only by persons who would be proof against corrup- 
tion. There was but one man in high position who could 
be trusted, and that was Pompey. The general to be 
selected must have unrestricted and therefore unconstitu- 
tional authority. But Pompey was at once capable and 
honest. Pompey could not be bribed by the pirates, and 
Pompey could be depended on not to abuse his opportu- 
nities to the prejudice of the Commonwealth. 

The natural course, therefore, would have been to 
declare Pompey Dictator; but Sylla had made the name 
unpopular; the right to appoint a Dictator lay with the 
Senate, with whom Pompey had never been a favourite, 
and the aristocracy had disliked and feared him more than 
ever since his consulship. From that quarter no help 
was to be looked for, and a method was devised to give him 
the reality of power without the title. Unity of command 
was the one essential — command untrammelled by orders 
from committees of weak and treacherous noblemen, who 
cared only for the interest of their class. The established 
forms were scrupulously observed, and the plan designed 
was brought forward first, according to rule, in the Senate. 
A tribune, Aulus Gabinius, introduced a proposition there 
that one person of consular rank should have absolute 

102 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 70-63 

jurisdiction, during three years, over the whole Mediter- 
ranean, and over all Roman territory for fifty miles inland 
from the coast; that the money in the treasury should be at 
his disposition; that he should have power to raise 500 
ships of war and to collect and organize 130,000 men. No 
such command for such a time had ever been committed 
to any one man since the abolition of the monarchy. It 
was equivalent to a suspension of the Senate itself, and of 
all constitutional government. The proposal was received 
with a burst of fury. Everyone knew that the person in- 
tended was Pompey. The decorum of the old days was 
forgotten. The noble lords started from their seats, flew 
at Gabinius, and almost strangled him: but he had friends 
outside the house ready to defend their champion; the 
country people had flocked in for the occasion; the city was 
thronged with multitudes such as had not been seen 
there since the days of the Gracchi. The tribune freed 
himself from the hands that were at his throat; he rushed 
out into the Forum, closely pursued by the consul Piso, 
who would have been torn to pieces in turn, had not Ga- 
binius interposed to save him. Senate or no Senate, it was 
decided that Gabinius's proposition should be submitted 
to the assembly, and the aristocrats were driven to their 
old remedy of bribing other members of the college of 
tribunes to interfere. Two renegades were thus secured: 
and when the voting day came, Trebellius, who was one of 
them, put in a vote; the other, Roscius, said that the power 
intended for Pompey was too considerable to be trusted 
to a single person, and proposed two commanders instead 
of one. The mob was packed so thick that the house-tops 
were covered. A yell rose from tens of thousands of 
throats so piercing that it was said a crow flying over the 
Forum dropped dead at the sound of it. The old patrician 
Catulus tried to speak, but the people would not hear him. 
The vote passed by acclamation, and Pompey was for three 
years sovereign of the Roman world. 

It now appeared how strong the Romans were when a 
fair chance was allowed them. Pompey had no extraor- 


dinary talents, but not in three years, but in three months, 
the pirates were extinguished. He divided the Mediter- 
ranean into thirteen districts, and allotted a squadron to 
each, under officers on whom he could thoroughly rely. 
Ships and seamen were found in abundance lying idle from 
the suspension of trade. In forty days he had cleared the 
seas between Gibraltar and Italy. He had captured entire 
corsair fleets, and had sent the rest flying into the Cilician 
creeks. There, in defence of their plunder and their 
families, they fought one desperate engagement, and when 
defeated, they surrendered without a further blow. Of 
real strength they had possessed none from the first. 
They had subsisted only through the guilty complicity of 
the Roman authorities, and they fell at the first stroke 
which was aimed at them in earnest. Thirteen hundred 
pirate ships were burnt. Their docks and arsenals were 
destroyed, and their fortresses were razed. Twenty-two 
thousand prisoners fell into the hands of Pompey. To 
the astonishment of mankind, Pompey neither impaled 
them, as the Senate had impaled the followers of Spartacus, 
nor even sold them for slaves. He was contented to scat- 
ter them among inland colonies, where they could no 
longer be dangerous. 

The suppression of the buccaneers was really a brilliant 
piece of work, and the ease with which it was accomplished 
brought fresh disgrace on the Senate and fresh glory on 
the hero of the hour. Cicero, with his thoughts fixed on 
saving the constitution, considered that Pompey might 
be the man to save it; or, at all events, that it would be 
unsafe to leave him to the democrats who had given him 
power and were triumphing in his success. On political 
grounds Cicero thought that Pompey ought to be recog- 
nised by the moderate party which he intended to form; 
and a person like himself, who hoped to rise by the popular 
votes, could not otherwise afford to seem cold amidst the 
universal enthusiasm. The pirates were abolished. Mith- 
ridates was still undisposed of. Lucullus, the hope of the 
aristocracy, was lying helpless within the Roman frontier, 

104 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 70-63 

with a disorganized and mutinous army. His victories 
were forgotten. He was regarded as the impersonation 
of every fault which had made the rule of the Senate so 
hateful. Pompey, the people's general, after a splendid 
success, had come home with clean hands; Lucullus had 
sacrificed his country to his avarice. The contrast set off 
his failures in colours perhaps darker than really belonged 
to them, and the cry naturally rose that Lucullus must be 
called back, and the all-victorious Pompey must be sent 
for the reconquest of Asia. Another tribune, Manilius, 
brought the question forward, this time directly before the 
assembly, the Senate's consent not being any more asked 
for. Caesar again brought his influence to bear on Pom- 
pey's side; but Caesar found support in a quarter where it 
might not have been looked for. The Senate was furious 
as before, but by far the most gifted person in the conserv- 
ative party now openly turned against them. Cicero 
was praetor this year, and was thus himself a senator. A 
seat in the Senate had been the supreme object of his am- 
bition. He was vain of the honour which he had won, and 
delighted with the high company into which he had been 
received; but he was too shrewd to go along with them 
upon a road which could lead only to their overthrow; 
and for their own sake, and for the sake of the institution 
itself of which he meant to be an illustrious ornament, he 
not only supported the Manilian proposition, but sup- 
ported it in a speech more effective than the wildest out- 
pourings of democratic rhetoric. 

Asia Minor, he said, was of all the Roman provinces 
the most important, because it was the most wealthy. 2 So 
rich it was and fertile that, for the productiveness of its soil, 
the variety of its fruits, the extent of its pastures, and the 
multitude of its exports, there was no country in the world 
to be compared with it; yet Asia was in danger of being 
utterly lost through the worthlessness of th£ governors and 
military commanders charged with the care of it. " Who 
does not know," Cicero asked, " that the avarice of our 
generals has been the cause of the misfortunes of our 

B. c. 70-63] THE MANILIAN LAW 105 

armies? You can see for yourselves how they act here at 
home in Italy; and what will they not venture far away in 
distant countries? Officers who cannot restrain their 
own appetites can never maintain discipline in their 
troops. Pompey has been victorious because he does not 
loiter about the towns for plunder or pleasure, or making 
collections of statues and pictures. Asia is a land of temp- 
tations. Send no one thither who cannot resist gold and 
jewels and shrines and pretty women. Pompey is upright 
and pure-sighted. Pompey knows that the State has been 
impoverished because the revenue flows into the coffers of 
a few individuals. Our fleets and armies have availed only 
to bring the more disgrace upon us through our defeats 
and losses." 3 

After passing a deserved panegyric on the suppression 
of the pirates, Cicero urged with all the power of his ora- 
tory that Manilius's measures should be adopted, and that 
the same general who had done so well already should be 
sent against Mithridates. 

This was perhaps the only occasion on which Cicero 
ever addressed the assembly in favour of the proposals of a 
popular tribune. Well would it have been for him and 
well for Rome if he could have held on upon a course into 
which he had been led by real patriotism. He was now in 
his proper place, where his better mind must have told him 
that he ought to have continued, working by the side of 
Caesar and Pompey. It was observed that more than once 
in his speech he mentioned with high honour the name of 
Marius. He appeared to have seen cleaily that the Senate 
was bringing the state to perdition; and that unless the 
Republic was to end in dissolution, or in mob rule and des- 
potism, the wise course was to recognise the legitimate 
tendencies of popular sentiment, and to lend the constant 
weight of his authority to those who were acting in har- 
mony with it. But Cicero could never wholly forget his 
own consequence, or bring himself to persist in any policy 
where he could play but a secondary part. 

The Manilian law was carried. In addition to his 

106 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 70-63 

present extraordinary command, Pompey was intrusted 
with the conduct of the war in Asia, and he was left un- 
fettered to act at his own discretion. He crossed the Bos- 
phorus with fifty thousand men; he invaded Pontus; he 
inflicted a decisive defeat on Mithridates, and broke up his 
army; he drove the Armenians back into their own 
mountains, and extorted out of them a heavy war indem- 
nity. The barbarian king who had so long defied the 
Roman power was beaten down at last, and fled across the 
Black Sea to Kertch, where his sons turned against him. 
He was sixty-eight years old, and could not wait till the 
wheel should make another turn. Broken down at 
last, he took leave of a world in which for him there was no 
longer a place. His women poisoned themselves success- 
fully. He, too fortified by antidotes to end as they ended, 
sought a surer death, and fell like Saul by the sword of a 
slave. Rome had put out her real strength, and at once, 
as before, all opposition went down before her. Asia was 
completely conquered, up to the line of the Euphrates. 
The Black Sea was held securely by a Roman fleet. Pom- 
pey passed down into Syria. Antioch surrendered with- 
out resistance. Tyre and Damascus followed. Jerusalem 
was taken by storm, and the Roman general entered the 
Holy of Holies. Of all the countries bordering on the 
Mediterranean, Egypt only was left independent, and of 
all the islands only Cyprus. A triumphal inscription in 
Rome declared that Pompey, the people's general, had in 
three years captured fifteen hundred cities, and had slain, 
taken, or reduced to submission, twelve million human 
beings. He justified what Cicero had foretold of his moral 
uprightness. In the midst of opportunities such as had 
fallen to no commander since Alexander, he outraged no 
woman's honour, and he kept his hands clean from " the 
accursed thing." When he returned to Rome, he re- 
turned, as he went, personally poor, but he filled the 
treasury to overflowing. His campaign was not a maraud- 
ing raid, like the march of Lucullus on Artaxata. His 
conquests were permanent. The East, which was then 

B. c. 70-63] POMPEY IN ASIA 107 

thickly inhabited by an industrious civilized Graeco-Orien- 
tal race, became incorporated in the Roman dominion, and 
the annual revenue of the State rose to twice what it had 
been. Pompey's success had been dazzlingly rapid. 
Envy and hatred, as he well knew, were waiting for him 
at home; and he was in no haste to present himself there. 
He lingered in Asia, organizing the administration, and 
consolidating his work; while at Rome the constitution 
was rushing on upon its old courses among the broken 
waters, with the roar of the not distant cataract growing 
every moment louder. 


1 Page 99. The name of Marius, it is to be observed, remained so 
popular in Rome that Cicero after this always spoke of him with 

2 Page 104. " Asia vero tarn opima est et fertilis, ut et ubertate agro- 
rum et varietate fructuum et magnitudine pastionis, et multitudine 
earum rerum, quae exportentur, facile omnibus terris antecellat." — Pro 
Lege Manilia. Cicero's expressions are worth notice at a time when 
Asia Minor has become of importance to England. 

3 Page 105. Pro Lege Manilia, abridged. 


AMONG the patricians who were rising through the 
lower magistracies and were aspiring to the consul- 
^ ship was Lucius Sergius Catiline. Catiline, now in 
middle life, had when young been a fervent admirer of 
Sylla, and, as has been already said, had been an active 
agent in the proscription. He had murdered his brother- 
in-law, and perhaps his brother, under political pretences. 
In an age when licentiousness of the grossest kind was too 
common to attract attention, Catiline had achieved a noto- 
riety for infamy. He had intrigued with a Vestal virgin, 
the sister of Cicero's wife, Terentia. If Cicero is to be 
believed, he had made away with his own wife, that he 
might marry Aurelia Orestilla, a woman as wicked as she 
was beautiful, and he had killed his child also because 
Aurelia had objected to be encumbered with a step-son. 
But this, too, was common in high society in those days. 
Adultery and incest had become familiar excitements. 
Boys of ten years old had learnt the art of poisoning their 
fathers, 1 and the story of Aurelia Orestilla and Catiline had 
been rehearsed a few years before by Sassia and Oppian- 
icus at Larino. 2 Other enormities Catiline had been guilty 
of, which Cicero declined to mention, lest he should show 
too openly what crimes might go unpunished under the 
senatorial administration. But villainy, however noto- 
rious, did not interfere with advancement in the public 
service. Catiline was adroit, bold, and even captivating. 
He made his way into high office along the usual grada- 
tions. He was praetor in B. C. 68. He went as governor 
to Africa in the year following, and he returned with 
money enough, as he reasonably hoped, to purchase the 
last step to the consulship. He was impeached when he 
came back for extortion and oppression, under one of the 


B. c. 63] CATILINE IO9 

many laws which were made to be laughed at. Till his 
trial was over he was disqualified from presenting himself 
as a candidate, and the election for the year 65 was carried 
by Autronius Paetus and Cornelius Sylla. Two other 
patricians, Aurelius Cotta and Manlius Torquatus, had 
stood against them. The successful competitors were 
unseated for bribery; Cotta and Torquatus took their 
places; and, apparently as a natural resource in the exist- 
ing contempt into which the constitution had fallen, the 
disappointed candidates formed a plot to kill their rivals 
and their rivals' friends in the Senate, and to make a revo- 
lution. Cneius Piso, a young nobleman of the bluest 
blood, joined in the conspiracy. Catiline threw himself 
into it as his natural element, and aristocratic tradition 
said in later years that Caesar and Crassus were implicated 
also. Some desperate scheme there certainly was, but the 
accounts of it are confused: one authority says that it failed 
because Catiline gave the signal prematurely; others that 
Caesar was to have given the signal, and did not do it; 
others that Crassus's heart failed him; others that the 
consuls had secret notice given to them and took precau- 
tions. Cicero, who was in Rome at the time, declares that he 
never heard of the conspiracy. 3 When evidence is incon- 
clusive, probability becomes argument. Nothing can be 
less likely than that a cautious capitalist of vast wealth like 
Crassus should have connected himself with a party of dis- 
solute adventurers. Had Caesar committed himself, jeal- 
ously watched as he was by the aristocrats, some proofs 
of his complicity would have been forthcoming. The 
aristocracy under the empire revenged themselves for their 
ruin by charging Caesar with a share in every combination 
that had been formed against them, from Sylla's time 
downwards. Be the truth what it may, nothing came of 
this project. Piso went to Spain, where he was killed. 
The prosecution of Catiline for his African misgovernment 
was continued, and, strange to say, Cicero undertook his 
defence. He was under no uncertainty as to Catiline's 
general character, or his particular guilt in the charge 

HO JULIUS C.4SSAR [ B . c. 63 

brought against him. It was plain as the sun at midday. 4 
But Cicero was about to stand himself for the consulship, 
the object of his most passionate desire. He had several 
competitors; and as he thought well of Catiline's prospects, 
he intended to coalesce with him. 5 Catiline was acquitted, 
apparently through a special selection of the judges, with 
the connivance of the prosecutor. The canvass was vio- 
lent, and the corruption flagrant. 6 Cicero did not bribe 
himself, but if Catiline's voters would give him a help, he 
was not so scrupulous as to be above taking advantage 
of it. Catiline's humour or the circumstances of the 
time provided him with a more honourable support. 
He required a more manageable colleague than he 
could have found in Cicero. Among the candidates 
was one of Sylla's officers, Caius Antonius, the uncle 
of Marc Antony, the triumvir. This Antonius had been 
prosecuted by Caesar for ill-usage of the Macedonians. 
He had been expelled by the censors from the Senate 
for general worthlessness; but public disgrace seems to 
have had no effect whatever on the chances of a candi- 
date for the consulship in this singular age. Antonius 
was weak and vicious, and Catiline could mould him 
as he pleased. He had made himself popular by his pro- 
fusion when aedile in providing shows for the mob. The 
feeling against the Senate was so bitter that the aristoc- 
racy had no chance of carrying a candidate of their own, 
and the competition was reduced at last to Catiline, An- 
tonius, and Cicero. Antonius was certain of his election, 
and the contest lay between Catiline and Cicero. Each 
of them tried to gain the support of Antonius and his 
friends. Catiline promised Antonius a revolution, in 
which they were to share the world between them. 
Cicero promised his influence to obtain some lucrative 
province for Antonius to misgovern. Catiline would prob- 
ably have succeeded, when the aristocracy, knowing what 
to expect if so scandalous a pair came into office, threw 
their weight on Cicero's side, and turned the scale. Cicero 
was liked among the people for his prosecution of Verres, 


for his support of the Manilian law, and for the boldness 
with which he had exposed patrician delinquencies. With 
the Senate for him also, he was returned at the head of the 
poll. The proud Roman nobility had selected a self-made 
lawyer as their representative. Cicero was consul, and 
Antonius with him. Catiline had failed. It was the turn- 
ing-point of Cicero's life. Before his consulship he had 
not irrevocably taken a side. No public speaker had more 
eloquently shown the necessity for reform; no one had 
denounced with keener sarcasm the infamies and follies of 
senatorial favourites. Conscience and patriotism should 
have alike held him to the reforming party; and political 
instinct, if vanity had left him the use of his perception, 
would have led him in the same direction. Possibly before 
he received the votes of the patricians and their clients, he 
had bound himself with certain engagements to them. 
Possibly he held the Senate's intellect cheap, and saw the 
position which he could arrive at among the aristocracy 
if he offered them his services. The strongest intellect 
was with the reformers, and first on that side he could 
never be. First among the Conservatives 7 he could easily 
be; and he might prefer being at the head of a party which 
at heart he despised to working at the side of persons who 
must stand inevitably above him. We may regret that 
gifted men should be influenced by personal considera- 
tions, but under party government it is a fact that they are 
so influenced, and will be as long as it continues. Csesar 
and Pompey were soldiers. The army was democratic, 
and the triumph of the democracy meant the rule of a pop- 
ular general. Cicero was a civilian, and a man of speech. 
In the Forum and in the Curia he knew that he could 
reign supreme. 

Cicero had thus reached the highest step in the scale 
of promotion by trimming between the rival factions. 
Csesar was rising simultaneously behind him on lines of 
his own. In the year B. C. 65 he had been sedile, having 
for his colleague Bibulus, his future companion on the suc- 
cessive grades of ascent. Bibulus was a rich plebeian, 

112 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 63 

whose delight in office was the introduction which it gave 
him into the society of the great; and in his politics he 
outdid his aristocratic patrons. The sediles had charge 
of the public buildings and the games and exhibitions in 
the capital. The sedileship was a magistracy through 
which it was ordinarily necessary to pass in order to reach 
the consulship; and as the aediles were expected to bear 
their own expenses, the consulship was thus restricted to 
those who could afford an extravagant outlay. They were 
expected to decorate the city with new ornaments, and to 
entertain the people with magnificent spectacles. If they 
fell short of public expectation, they need look no further 
for the suffrages of their many-headed master. Cicero 
had slipped through the sedileship, without ruin to himself. 
He was a self-raised man, known to be dependent upon his 
own exertions, and liked from the willingness with which 
he gave his help to accused persons on their trials. Thus 
no great demands had been made upon him. Caesar, 
either more ambitious or less confident in his services, 
raised a new and costly row of columns in front of the Capi- 
tol. He built a temple to the Dioscuri, and he charmed 
the populace with a show of gladiators unusually exten- 
sive. Personally he cared nothing for these sanguinary 
exhibitions, and he displayed his indifference ostenta- 
tiously by reading or writing while the butchery was going 
forward. 8 But he required the favour of the multitude, 
and then, as always, took the road which led most directly 
to his end. The noble lords watched him suspiciously, 
and their uneasiness was not diminished when, not content 
with having produced the insignia of Marius at his aunt's 
funeral, he restored the trophies for the victories over the 
Cimbri and Teutons, which had been removed by Sylla. 
The name of Marius was growing every day more dear to 
the popular party. They forgave, if they had ever re- 
sented, his cruelties. His veterans who had fought with 
him through his campaigns came forward in tears to 
salute the honoured relics of their once glorious com- 


As he felt the ground stronger under his feet, Caesar 
now began to assume an attitude more peremptorily 
marked. He had won a reputation in the Forum; he had 
spoken in the Senate; he had warmly advocated the ap- 
pointment of Pompey to his high commands; and he was 
regarded as a prominent democratic leader. But he had 
not aspired to the tribunate; he had not thrown himself 
into politics with any absorbing passion. His exertions 
had been intermittent, and he was chiefly known as a bril- 
liant member of fashionable society, a peculiar favourite 
with women, and remarkable for his abstinence from the 
coarse debauchery which disgraced his patrician contem- 
poraries. He was now playing for a higher stake, and the 
oligarchy had occasion to be reminded of Sylla's prophecy. 
In carrying out the proscription, Sylla had employed pro- 
fessional assassins, and payments had been made out of 
the treasury to wretches who came to him with bloody 
trophies in their hands to demand the promised fees. The 
time had come when these doings were to be looked into; 
hundreds of men had been murdered, their estates confis- 
cated, and their families ruined, who had not been even 
ostensibly guilty of any public crime. At Caesar's instance 
an inquiry was ordered. He himself was appointed Judex 
Quaestionis, or chairman of a committee of investigation; 
and Catiline, among others, was called to answer for him- 
self — a curious commentary on Caesar's supposed connec- 
tion with him. 

Nor did the inquisition stop with Sylla. Titus La- 
bienus, afterwards so famous and so infamous, was then 
tribune of the people. His father had been killed at the 
side of Saturninus and Glaucia thirty-seven years before, 
when the young lords of Rome had unroofed the senate 
house, and had pelted them and their companions to death 
with tiles. One of the actors in the scene, Caius Rabi- 
rius, now a very old man, was still alive. Labienus prose- 
cuted him before Caesar. Rabirius was condemned, and 
appealed to the people; and Cicero, who had just been 
made consul, spoke in his defence. On this occasion 

114 JULIUS C^SAR [b.c. 63 

Cicero for the first time came actively in collision with 
Caesar. His language contrasted remarkably with the 
tone of his speeches against Verres and for the Manilian 
law. It was adroit, for he charged Marius with having 
shared the guilt, if guilt there had been, in the death of 
those men; but the burden of what he said was to defend 
enthusiastically the conservative aristocracy, and to cen- 
sure with all his bitterness the democratic reformers. 
Rabirius was acquitted, perhaps justly. It was a hard 
thing to revive the memory of a political crime which had 
been shared by the whole patrician order after so long an 
interval. But Cicero had shown his new colours; no help, 
it was evident, was thenceforward to be expected from him 
in the direction of reform. The popular party replied in 
a singular manner. The office of Pontifex Maximus was 
the most coveted of all the honours to which a Roman citi- 
zen could aspire. It was held for life: it was splendidly 
endowed; and there still hung about the pontificate the 
traditionary dignity attaching to the chief of the once sin- 
cerely believed Roman religion. Like other objects of 
ambition, the nomination had fallen, with the growth of 
democracy, to the people, but the position had always been 
held by some member of the old aristocracy; and Sylla, to 
secure them in the possession of it, had reverted to the 
ancient constitution, and had restored to the Sacred Col- 
lege the privilege of choosing their head. Under the im- 
pulse which the popular party had received from Pom- 
pey's successes, Labienus carried a vote in the assembly, 
by which the people resumed the nomination to the pon- 
tificate to themselves. In the same year it fell vacant by 
the death of the aged Metellus Pius. Two patricians, 
Quintus Catulus and Caesar's old general Servilius Isauri- 
cus, were the Senate's candidates, and vast sums were sub- 
scribed and spent to secure the success of one or other 
of the two. Caesar came forward to oppose them. Caesar 
aspired to be Pontifex Maximus — Pope of Rome — he 
who of all men living was the least given to illusion; 
he who was the most frank in his confession of entire 


disbelief in the legends which, though few credited them 
any more, yet almost all thought it decent to pretend 
to credit. Among the phenomena of the time this was 
surely the most singular. Yet Caesar had been a priest 
from his boyhood, and why should he not be Pope? He 
offered himself to the Comitia. Committed as he was to a 
contest with the richest men in Rome, he spent money 
freely. He was in debt already for his expenses as aedile. 
He engaged his credit still deeper for this new competi- 
tion. The story ran that when his mother kissed him as 
he was leaving his home for the Forum on the morning of 
the election, he told her that he would return as pontiff, or 
she would never see him more. He was chosen by an 
overwhelming majority; the votes given for him being 
larger than the collective numbers of the votes entered for 
his opponents. 

The election for the pontificate was on the 6th of March, 
and soon after Caesar received a further evidence of popular 
favour on being chosen praetor for the next year. As the 
liberal party was growing in courage and defmiteness, 
Cicero showed himself more decidedly on the other side. 
Now was the time for him, highly placed as he was, to 
prevent a repetition of the scandals which he had so elo- 
quently denounced, to pass laws which no future Verres or 
Lucullus could dare to defy. Now was his opportunity 
to take the wind out of the reformers' sails, and to grapple 
himself with the thousand forms of patrician villainy which 
he well knew to be destroying the Commonwealth. Not 
one such measure, save an ineffectual attempt to check 
election bribery, distinguished the consulship of Cicero. 
His entire efforts were directed to the combination in a 
solid phalanx of the equestrian and patrician orders. The 
danger to society, he had come to think, was an approach- 
ing war against property, and his hope was to unite the 
rich of both classes in defence against the landless and 
moneyless multitudes. 9 The land question had become 
again as pressing as in the time of the Gracchi. The peas- 
ant proprietors were melting away as fast as ever, and 

1 1 6 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 63 

Rome was becoming choked with impoverished citizens, 
who ought to have been farmers and fathers of families, 
but were degenerating into a rabble fed upon the corn 
grants, and occupied with nothing but spectacles and poli- 
tics. The Agrarian laws in the past had been violent, and 
might reasonably be complained of; but a remedy could 
now be found for this fast increasing mischief without in- 
jury to anyone. Pompey's victories had filled the public 
treasury. Vast territories abroad had lapsed to the pos- 
session of the State; and Rullus, one of the tribunes, pro- 
posed that part of these territories should be sold, and that 
out of the proceeds and out of the money which Pompey 
had sent home, farms should be purchased in Italy and 
poor citizens settled upon them. Rullus's scheme might 
have been crude, and the details of it objectionable; but to 
attempt the problem was better than to sit still and let the 
evil go unchecked. If the bill was impracticable in its 
existing form, it might have been amended; and so far as 
the immediate effect of such a law was concerned, it was 
against the interests of the democrats. The popular vote 
depended for its strength on the masses of poor who were 
crowded into Rome; and the tribune was proposing to 
weaken his own army. But the very name of an Agrarian 
law set patrician householders in a flutter, and Cicero 
stooped to be their advocate. He attacked Rullus with 
brutal sarcasm. He insulted his appearance; he ridiculed 
his dress, his hair, and his beard. He mocked at his bad 
enunciation and bad grammar. No one more despised 
the mob than Cicero; but because Rullus had said that the 
city rabble was dangerously powerful, and ought to be 
" drawn off " to some wholesome employment, the elo- 
quent consul condescended to quote the words, to score a 
point against his opponent; and he told the crowd that 
their tribune had described a number of excellent citizens 
to the Senate as no better than the contents of a cesspool. 10 
By these methods Cicero caught the people's voices. 
The plan came to nothing, and his consulship would have 
waned away, undistinguished by any act which his coun- 


try would have cared to remember, but for an accident 
which raised him for a moment into a position of real con- 
sequence, and impressed on his own mind a conviction 
that he was a second Romulus. 

Revolutionary conspiracies are only formidable when 
the government against which they are directed is already 
despised and detested. As long as an administration is 
endurable the majority of citizens prefer to bear with it, 
and will assist in repressing violent attempts at its over- 
throw. Their patience, however, may be exhausted, and 
the disgust may rise to a point when any change may seem 
an improvement. Authority is no longer shielded by the 
majesty with which it ought to be surrounded. It has 
made public its own degradation; and the most worthless 
adventurer knows that he has no moral indignation to fear 
if he tries to snatch the reins out of hands which are at least 
no more pure than his own. If he can dress his endeavours 
in the livery of patriotism, if he can put himself forward as 
the champion of an injured people, he can cover the scan- 
dals of his own character and appear as a hero and a liber- 
ator. Catiline had missed the consulship, and was a 
ruined man. He had calculated on succeeding to a prov- 
ince where he might gather a golden harvest and come 
home to live in splendour, like Lucullus. He had failed de- 
feated by a mere plebeian, whom his brother patricians had 
stooped to prefer to him. Were the secret history known 
of the contest for the consulship, much might be discov- 
ered there to explain Cicero's and Catiline's hatred of each 
other. Cicero had once thought of coalescing with Cati- 
line, notwithstanding his knowledge of his previous crimes: 
Catiline had perhaps hoped to dupe Cicero, and had been 
himself outwitted. He intended to stand again for the 
year 62, but evidently on a different footing from that on 
which he had presented himself before. That such a man 
should have been able to offer himself at all, and that such 
a person as Cicero should have entered into any kind of 
amicable relations with him, was a sign by itself that the 
Commonwealth was already sickening for death. 

Il8 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 63 

Catiline was surrounded by men of high birth whose for- 
tunes were desperate as his own. There was Lentulus, 
who had been consul a few years before, and had been ex- 
pelled from the Senate by the censors. There was Cethe- 
gus, staggering under a mountain of debts. There was 
Autronius, who had been unseated for bribery when chosen 
consul in 65. There was Manlius, once a distinguished 
officer in Sylla's army, and now a beggar. Besides these 
were a number of senators, knights, gentlemen, and disso- 
lute young patricians, whose theory of the world was that 
it had been created for them to take their pleasure in, and 
who found their pleasures shortened by emptiness of purse. 
To them, as to their betters, the Empire was but a large 
dish out of which they considered that they had a right to 
feed themselves. They were defrauded of their proper 
share, and Catiline was the person who could help them 
to it. 

Etruria was full of Sylla's disbanded soldiers, who had 
squandered their allotments, and were hanging about, un- 
occupied and starving. Catiline sent down Manlius, their 
old officer, to collect as many as he could of them 
without attracting notice. He himself, as the election 
day approached, and Cicero's year of office was draw- 
ing to an end, took up the character of an aristocratic 
demagogue, and asked for the suffrages of the people as 
the champion of the poor against the rich, as the friend of 
the wretched and oppressed; and those who thought them- 
selves wretched and oppressed in Rome were so large a 
body, and so bitterly hostile were they all to the prosperous 
classes, that his election was anticipated as a certainty. 
In the Senate the consulship of Catiline was regarded as 
no less than an impending national calamity. Marcus 
Cato, great-grandson of the Censor, then growing into 
fame by his acrid tongue and narrow republican fanati- 
cism, who had sneered at Pompey's victories as triumphs 
over women, and had not spared even Cicero himself, 
threatened Catiline in the Curia. Catiline answered, in a 
fully attended house, that if any agitation was kindled 


against him he would put it out not with water, but with 
revolution. His language became so audacious that, on 
the eve of election day, Cicero moved for a postponement, 
that the Senate might take his language into considera- 
tion. Catiline's conduct was brought on for debate, and 
the consul called on him to explain himself. There was 
no concealment in Catiline. Then and always Cicero 
admits he was perfectly frank. He made no excuses. He 
admitted the truth of what had been reported of him. 
The State, he said, had two bodies, one weak (the aris- 
tocracy), with a weak leader (Cicero); the other, the great 
mass of the citizens — strong in themselves, but without a 
head, and he himself intended to be that head. 11 A groan 
was heard in the house, but less loud than in Cicero's opin- 
ion it ought to have been; and Catiline sailed out in 
triumph, leaving the noble lords looking in each other's 

Both Cicero and the Senate were evidently in the 
greatest alarm that Catiline would succeed constitutionally 
in being chosen consul, and they strained every sinew to 
prevent so terrible a catastrophe. When the Comitia 
came on, Cicero admits that he occupied the voting place 
in the Campus Martius with a guard of men who could be 
depended on. He was violating the law, which forbade 
the presence of an armed force on those occasions. He 
excused himself by pretending that Catiline's party in- 
tended violence, and he appeared ostentatiously in a breast- 
plate as if his own life was aimed at. The result was, that 
Catiline failed once more, and was rejected by a small 
majority. Cicero attributes his defeat to the moral effect 
produced by the breastplate. But from the time of the 
Gracchi downwards the aristocracy had not hesitated to 
lay pressure on the elections when they could safely do it; 
and the story must be taken with reservation, in the 
absence of a more impartial account than we possess of the 
purpose to which Cicero's guard was applied. Undoubt- 
edly it was desirable to strain the usual rules to keep a 
wretch like Catiline from the consulship; but as certainly, 

120 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 63 

both before the election and after it, Catiline had the sym- 
pathies of a very large part of the resident inhabitants of 
the city, and these sympathies must be taken into account 
if we are to understand the long train of incidents of which 
this occasion was the beginning. 

Two strict aristocrats, Decimus Silanus and Lucius 
Murena, 12 were declared elected. Pompey was on his way 
home, but had not yet reached Italy. There were no 
regular troops in the whole Peninsula, and the nearest ap- 
proach to an army was the body of Syllans, whom Manlius 
had quietly collected at Fiesole. Cicero's colleague, An- 
tonius, was secretly in communication with Catiline, evi- 
dently thinking it likely that he would succeed. Catiline 
determined to wait no longer, and to raise an insurrec- 
tion in the capital, with slave emancipation and a cancel- 
ling of debt for a cry. Manlius was to march on Rome, 
and the Senate, it was expected, would fall without a blow. 
Caesar and Crassus sent a warning to Cicero to be on his 
guard. Caesar had called Catiline to account for his doings 
at the time of the proscription, and knew his nature too 
well to expect benefit to the people from a revolution con- 
ducted under the auspices of bankrupt patrician adven- 
turers. No citizen had more to lose than Crassus from a 
crusade of the poor against the rich. But they had both 
been suspected two years before; and in the excited temper 
of men's minds, they took precautions for their own repu- 
tation's sake, as well as for the safety of the State. 
Quintus Curius, a senator, who was one of the conspira- 
tors, was meanwhile betraying his accomplices, and gave 
daily notice to the consuls of each step which was con- 
templated. But so weak was authority, and so dangerous 
the temper of the people, that the difficulty was to know 
what to do. Secret information was scarcely needed. 
Catiline, as Cicero said, was " apertissimus," most frank in 
the declaration of his intentions. Manlius's army at 
Fiesole was an open fact, and any day might bring news 
that he was on the march to Rome. The Senate, as usual 
in extreme emergencies, declared the State in danger, and 


gave the consuls unlimited powers to provide for public 
security. So scornfully confident was Catiline, that he 
offered to place himself under surveillance at the house of 
any senator whom Cicero might name, or to reside with 
Cicero himself, if the consul preferred to keep a personal 
eye upon him. Cicero answered that he dared not trust 
himself with so perilous a guest. 

So for a few days matters hung in suspense, Manlius 
expecting an order to advance, Catiline waiting apparently 
for a spontaneous insurrection in the city before he gave 
the word. Intended attempts at various points had been 
baffled by Cicero's precautions. At last, finding that the 
people remained quiet, Catiline called a meeting of his 
friends one stormy night at the beginning of November, 
and it was agreed that two of the party should go the next 
morning at dawn to Cicero's house, demand to see him on 
important business, and kill him in his bed. Curius, who 
was present, immediately furnished Cicero with an account 
of what had passed. When his morning visitors arrived, 
they were told that they could not be admitted; and a 
summons was sent round to the senators to assemble im- 
mediately at the Temple of Jupiter Stator — one of the 
strongest positions in the city. 13 The audacious Catiline 
attended, and took his usual seat; everyone shrank from 
him, and he was left alone on the bench. Then Cicero 
rose. In the Senate, where to speak was the first duty of 
man, he was in his proper element, and had abundant 
courage. He addressed himself personally to the principal 
conspirator. He exposed, if exposure be the fitting word 
when half the persons present knew as much as he could 
tell them, the history of Catiline's proceedings. He de- 
scribed, in detail, the meeting of the past evening, looking 
round perhaps in the faces of the senators, who, he was 
aware, had been present at it. He spoke of the visit de- 
signed to himself in the morning, which had been baffled 
by his precautions. He went back over the history of the 
preceding half-century. Fresh from the defence of Rabi- 
rius, he showed how dangerous citizens, the Gracchi, 

122 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 63 

Saturninus, Glaucia, had been satisfactorily killed when 
they were meditating mischief. He did not see that a con- 
stitution was already doomed, when the ruling powers were 
driven to assassinate their opponents, because a trial with 
the forms of law would have ended in their acquittal. He 
told Catiline that, under the powers which the Senate had 
conferred on him, he might order his instant execution. 
He detailed Catiline's past enormities, which he had for- 
gotten when he sought his friendship, and he ended in 
bidding him leave the city, go, and join Manlius and his 

Never had Cicero been greater, and never did oratory 
end in a more absurd conclusion. He dared not arrest 
Catiline. He confessed that he dared not. There was not 
a doubt that Catiline was meditating a revolution — but a 
revolution was precisely what half the world was wishing 
for. Rightly read, those sounding paragraphs, those 
moral denunciations, those appeals to history and patriotic 
sentiment, were the funeral knell of the Roman Common- 

Let Catiline go into open war, Cicero said, and then 
there would no longer be a doubt. Then all the world 
would admit his treason. Catiline went; and what was to 
follow next? Antonius, the second consul, was notor- 
iously not to be relied on. The other conspirators, sen- 
ators who sat listening while Cicero poured out his elo- 
quent indignation, remained still in the city with the 
threads of insurrection in their hands, and were encour- 
aged to persevere by the evident helplessness of the govern- 
ment. The imperfect record of history retains for us only 
the actions of a few individuals whom special talent or 
special circumstances distinguished, and such information 
is only fragmentary. We lose sight of the unnamed seeth- 
ing multitudes by whose desires and by whose hatreds the 
stream of events was truly guided. The party of revolu- 
tion was as various as it was wide. Powerful wealthy 
men belonged to it, who were politically dissatisfied; 
ambitious men of rank, whose money embarrassments 


weighted them in the race against their competitors; old 
officers and soldiers of Sylla, who had spent the fortunes 
which they had won by violence, and were now trying to 
bring him back from the dead to renew their lease of 
plunder; ruined wretches without number, broken down 
with fines and proscriptions, and debts and the accumula- 
tion of usurious interest. Add to these " the dangerous 
classes/' the natural enemies of all governments: par- 
ricides, adulterers, thieves, forgers, escaped slaves, 
brigands, and pirates who had lost their occupation; and, 
finally, Catiline's own chosen comrades, the smooth-faced 
patrician youths with curled hair and redolent of perfumes, 
as yet beardless or with the first down upon their chins, 
wearing scarfs and veils and sleeved tunics reaching to 
their ankles, industrious but only with the dice-box, night 
watchers but in the supper rooms, in the small hours before 
dawn, immodest, dissolute boys, whose education had 
been in learning to love and to be loved, to sing and to 
dance naked at the midnight orgies, and along with it to 
handle poniards and mix poisoned bowls. 14 

Well might Cicero be alarmed at such a combination; 
well might he say, that if a generation of such youths lived 
to manhood, there would be a commonwealth of Catilines. 
But what was to be thought of the prospects of a society 
in which such phenomena were developing themselves? 
Cicero bade them all go, — follow their chief into the war, 
and perish in the snow of the Apennines. But how, if 
they would not go? How, if from the soil of Rome under 
the rule of his friends the Senate, fresh crops of such youths 
would rise perennially? The Commonwealth needed 
more drastic medicine than eloquent exhortations, how- 
ever true the picture might be. 

None of the promising young gentlemen took Cicero's 
advice. Catiline went alone, and joined Manlius, and had 
he come on at once he might perhaps have taken Rome. 
The army was to support an insurrection, and the insur- 
rection was to support the army. Catiline waited for a 
signal from his friends in the city, and Lentulus, Cethegus, 

124 JULIUS C^SAR [b.c. 63 

Autronius, and the rest of the leaders waited for Catiline 
to arrive. Conspirators never think that they have taken 
precautions enough, or have gained allies enough; and in 
endeavouring to secure fresh support, they made a fatal mis- 
take. An embassy of Allobroges was in the city, a frontier 
tribe on the borders of the Roman province in Gaul, who 
were allies of Rome, though not as yet subjects. The 
Gauls were the one foreign nation whom the Romans 
really feared. The passes of the Alps alone protected Italy 
from the hordes of German or Gallic barbarians, whose 
numbers being unknown were supposed to be exhaustless. 
Middle-aged men could still remember the panic at the in- 
vasion of the Cimbri and Teutons, and it was the chief 
pride of the democrats that the State had been saved by 
their own Marius. At the critical moment it was dis- 
covered that the conspirators had entered into a corre- 
spondence with these Allobroges, and had actually pro- 
posed to them to make a fresh inroad over the Alps. The 
suspicion of such an intention at once alienated from Cati- 
line the respectable part of the democratic party. The 
fact of the communication was betrayed to Cicero. He 
intercepted the letters; he produced them in the Senate 
with the seals unbroken, that no suspicion might rest upon 
himself. Lentulus and Cethegus were sent for, and could 
not deny their hands. The letters were then opened and 
read, and no shadow of uncertainty any longer remained 
that they had really designed to bring in an army of Gauls. 
Such of the conspirators as were known and were still 
within reach were instantly seized. 

Cicero, with a pardonable laudation of himself and of the 
Divine Providence of which he professed to regard himself 
as the minister, congratulated his country on its escape 
from so genuine a danger; and he then invited the Senate 
to say what was to be done with these apostates from their 
order, whose treason was now demonstrated. A plot for 
a mere change of government, for the deposition of the 
aristocrats, and the return to power of the popular party, 
it might be impolitic, perhaps impossible, severely to 


punish, but Catiline and his friends had planned the be- 
trayal of the State to the barbarians; and with persons who 
had committed themselves to national treason there was 
no occasion to hesitate. Cicero produced the list of those 
whom he considered guilty, and there were some among 
his friends who thought the opportunity might be used to 
get rid of dangerous enemies, after the fashion of Sylla, 
especially of Crassus and Caesar. The name of Crassus was 
first mentioned, some said by secret friends of Catiline, 
who hoped to alarm the Senate into inaction by showing 
with whom they would have to deal. Crassus, it is 
possible, knew more than he had told the consul. Cati- 
line's success had, at one moment, seemed assured; and 
great capitalists are apt to insure against contingencies. 
But Cicero moved and carried a resolution that the charge 
against him was a wicked invention. The attempt against 
Caesar was more determined. Old Catulus, whom Caesar 
had defeated in the contest for the pontificate, and Caius 
Calpurnius Piso, 15 a bitter aristocrat, whom Caesar had 
prosecuted for misgovernment in Gaul, urged Cicero to 
include his name. But Cicero was too honourable to lend 
himself to an accusation which he knew to be false. Some 
of the young lords in their disappointment threatened 
Caesar at the senate-house door with their swords; but the 
attack missed its mark, and served only to show how 
dreaded Caesar already was, and how eager a desire there 
was to make an end of him. 

The list submitted for judgment contained the names 
of none but those who were indisputably guilty. The 
Senate voted at once that they were traitors to the State. 
The next question was of the nature of their punishment. 
In the first place the persons of public officers were sacred, 
and Lentulus was at the time a praetor. And next the Sem- 
pronian law forbade distinctly that any Roman citizen 
should be put to death without a trial, and without the 
right of appeal to the assembly. 16 It did not mean simply 
that Roman citizens were" not to be murdered, or that at 
any time it had been supposed that they might. The 

126 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 63 

object was to restrain the extraordinary power claimed by 
the Senate of setting the laws aside on exceptional occa- 
sions. Silanus, the consul-elect for the following year, was, 
according to usage, asked to give his opinion first. He 
voted for immediate death. One after the other the 
voices were the same, till the turn came of Tiberius Nero, 
the great-grandfather of Nero the Emperor. Tiberius 
was against haste. He advised that the prisoners 
should be kept in confinement till Catiline was taken 
or killed, and that the whole affair should then be care- 
fully investigated. Investigation was perhaps what 
many senators were most anxious to avoid. When 
Tiberius had done, Caesar rose. The speech which Sallust 
places in his mouth was not an imaginary sketch of what 
Sallust supposed him likely to have said, but the ver- 
sion generally received of what he actually did say, and the 
most important passages of it are certainly authentic. For 
the first time we see through the surface of Caesar's out- 
ward actions into his real mind. During the three quarters 
of a century which had passed since the death of the elder 
Gracchus one political murder had followed upon another. 
Every conspicuous democrat had been killed by the aristo- 
crats in some convenient disturbance. No constitution 
could survive when the law was habitually set aside by vio- 
lence; and disdaining the suspicion with which he knew 
that his words would be regarded, Caesar warned the Senate 
against another act of precipitate anger which would be 
unlawful in itself, unworthy of their dignity, and likely in 
the future to throw a doubt upon the guilt of the men upon 
whose fate they were deliberating. He did not extenuate, 
he rather emphasized, the criminality of Catiline and his 
confederates; but for that reason and because for the 
present no reasonable person felt the slightest uncertainty 
about it, he advised them to keep within the lines which the 
law had marked out for them. He spoke with respect of 
Silanus. He did not suppose him to be influenced by feel- 
ings of party animosity. Silanus had recommended the 
execution of the prisoners, either because he thought their 


lives incompatible with the safety of the State, or because 
no milder punishment seemed adequate to the enormity 
of their conduct. But the safety of the State, he said, with 
a compliment to Cicero, had been sufficiently provided 
for by the diligence of the consul. As to punishment, none 
could be too severe; but with that remarkable adherence to 
fact, which always distinguished Caesar, that repudiation 
of illusion and sincere utterance of his real belief, whatever 
that might be, he contended that death was not a punish- 
ment at all. Death was the end of human suffering. In 
the grave there was neither joy nor sorrow. When a man 
was dead he ceased to be. 17 He became as he had been 
before he was born. Probably almost everyone in the 
Senate thought like Caesar on this subject. Cicero cer- 
tainly did, The only difference was, that plausible states- 
men affected a respect for the popular superstition, and 
pretended to believe what they did not believe. Caesar 
spoke his convictions out. There was no longer any 
solemnity in an execution. It was merely the removal out 
of the way of troublesome persons; and convenient as such 
a method might be, it was of graver consequence that the 
Senate of Rome, the guardians of the law, should not set 
an example of violating the law. Illegality, Caesar told 
them, would be followed by greater illegalities. He re- 
minded them how they had applauded Sylla, how they had 
rejoiced when they saw their political enemies summarily 
despatched; and yet the proscription, as they well knew, 
had been perverted to the license of avarice and private 
revenge. They might feel sure that no such consequence 
need be feared under their present consul: but times might 
change. The worst crimes which had been committed in 
Rome in the past century had risen out of the imitation 
of precedents, which at the moment seemed defensible. 
The laws had prescribed a definite punishment for treason. 
Those laws had been gravely considered; they had been 
enacted by the great men who had built up the Roman 
dominion, and were not to be set aside in impatient haste. 
Caesar therefore recommended that the estates of the con- 

128 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 63 

spirators should be confiscated, that they themselves 
should be kept in strict and solitary confinement dispersed 
in various places, and that a resolution should be passed 
forbidding an application for their pardon either to Senate 
or people. 

The speech was weighty in substance and weightily 
delivered, and it produced its effect. 18 Silanus withdrew 
his opinion. Quintus Cicero, the consul's brother, fol- 
lowed, and a clear majority of the Senate went with them, 
till it came to the turn of a young man who in that year 
had taken his place in the house for the first time, who was 
destined to make a reputation which could be set in compe- 
tition with that of the gods themselves, and whose moral 
opinion could be held superior to that of the gods. 19 

Marcus Portius Cato was born in the year 95, and was 
thus five years younger than Caesar and eleven years 
younger than Cicero. He was the great-grandson, as was 
said above, of the stern rugged Censor who hated Greek, 
preferred the teaching of the ploughtail and the Twelve 
Tables to the philosophy of Aristotle, disbelieved in prog- 
ress, and held by the maxims of his father — the last, he, 
of the Romans of the old type. The young Marcus af- 
fected to take his ancestor for a pattern. He resembled 
him as nearly as a modern Anglican monk resembles St. 
Francis or St. Bernard. He could reproduce the form, 
but it was the form with the life gone out of it. He was 
immeasurably superior to the men around him. He was 
virtuous, if it be virtue to abstain from sin. He never 
lied. No one ever suspected him of dishonesty or corrup- 
tion. But his excellences were not of the retiring sort. 
He carried them written upon him in letters for all to read, 
as a testimony to a wicked generation. His opinions were 
as pedantic as his life was abstemious, and no one was 
permitted to differ from him without being held guilty 
rather of a crime than of a mistake. He was an aristocratic 
pedant, to whom the living forces of humanity seemed but 
irrational impulses of which he and such as he were the 
appointed school-masters. To such a temperament a man 


of genius is instinctively hateful. Cato had spoken often 
in the Senate, though so young a member of it, denounc- 
ing the immoral habits of the age. He now rose to match 
himself against Caesar; and with passionate vehemence he 
insisted that the wretches who had plotted the overthrow 
of the State should be immediately killed. He noticed 
Caesar's objections only to irritate the suspicion in which 
he probably shared, that Caesar himself was one of Cati- 
line's accomplices. That Caesar had urged as a reason for 
moderation the absence of immediate danger, was in Cato's 
opinion an argument the more for anxiety. Naturally, 
too, he did not miss the opportunity of striking at the 
scepticism which questioned future retribution. Whether 
Cato believed himself in a future life mattered little, if 
Caesar's frank avowal could be turned to his prejudice. 

Cato spoke to an audience well disposed to go with him. 
Silanus went round to his first view, and the mass of sen- 
ators followed him. Caesar attempted to reply; but so 
fierce were the passions that had been roused, that again 
he was in danger of violence. The young knights who 
were present as a senatorial guard rushed at him with their 
drawn swords. A few friends protected him with their 
cloaks, and he left the Curia not to enter it again for the 
rest of the year. When Caesar was gone, Cicero rose to 
finish the debate. He too glanced at Caesar's infidelity, 
and as Caesar had spoken of the wisdom of the past genera- 
tions, he observed that in the same generations there had 
been a pious belief that the grave was not the end of human 
existence. With an ironical compliment to the prudence 
of Caesar's advice, he said that his own interest would 
lead him to follow it; he would have the less to fear from 
the irritation of the people. The Senate, he observed, 
must have heard with pleasure that Caesar condemned the 
conspiracy. Caesar was the leader of the popular party, 
and from him at least they now knew that they had nothing 
to fear. The punishment which Caesar recommended was, 
in fact, Cicero admitted, more severe than death. He 

trusted, therefore, that if the conspirators were executed, 

130 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 63 

and he had to answer to the people for the sentence to be 
passed upon them, Caesar himself would defend him against 
the charge of cruelty. Meanwhile he said that he had the 
ineffable satisfaction of knowing that he had saved the 
State. The Senate might adopt such resolutions as might 
seem good to them without alarm for the consequences. 
The conspiracy was disarmed. He had made enemies 
among the bad citizens; but he had deserved and he had 
won the gratitude of the good, and he stood secure behind 
the impregnable bulwark of his country's love. 

So Cicero, in the first effusion of self-admiration with 
which he never ceased to regard his conduct on this occa- 
sion. No doubt he had acted bravely, and he had shown 
as much adroitness as courage. But the whole truth was 
never told. The Senate's anxiety to execute the prisoners 
arose from a fear that the people would be against them if 
an appeal to the assembly was allowed. The Senate was 
contending for the privilege of suspending the laws by its 
own independent will; and the privilege, if it was ever con- 
stitutional, had become so odious by the abuse of it, that 
to a large section of Roman citizens, a conspiracy against 
the oligarchy had ceased to be looked on as treason at all. 
Cicero and Cato had their way. Lentulus, Cethegus, 
Autronius, and their companions were strangled in their 
cells, on the afternoon of the debate upon their fate. A 
few weeks later Catiline's army was cut to pieces, and he 
himself was killed. So desperately his haggard bands had 
fought that they fell in their ranks where they stood, and 
never Roman commander gained a victory that cost him 
more dear. So furious a resistance implied a motive and 
a purpose beyond any which Cicero or Sallust records, 
and the commission of inquiry suggested by Tiberius Nero 
in the Senate might have led to curious revelations. The 
Senate perhaps had its own reasons for fearing such revela- 
tions, and for wishing the voices closed which could have 
made them. 



1 Page 108. "Nunc quis patrem decern annorum natus non modo aufert 
sed tollit nisi veneno ? " — Varronis Fragmenta, ed. Alexander Riese, 
p. 216. 

2 Page 108. See the story in Cicero, Pro Cluentio. 

3 Page 109. Pro P. Sulla, 4. 

4 Page 1 10. " Catilina, si judicatum erit, meridie non lucere, certus erit 
competitor." — Epist. ad Atticum, i. 1. 

5 Page no. "Hoc tempore Catilinam, competitorem nostrum, de- 
fendere cogitamus. Judices habemus, quos volumus, summa accu- 
satoris voluntate. Spero, si absolutus erit, conjunctiorem ilium nobis 
fore in ratione petitionis." — lb. i. 2. 

6 Page no. " Scito nihil tarn exercitum nunc esse Romas quam candi- 
datos omnibus iniquitatibus." — lb. i. n. 

7 Page in. I use a word apparently modern, but Cicero himself gave 
the name of Conservatores Reipublicse to the party to which he be- 

8 Page 112. Suetonius, speaking of Augustus, says: •■ Quoties adesset, 
nihil praeterea agebat, seu vitandi rumoris causa, quo patrem Csesarem 
vulgo reprehensum commemorabat, quod inter spectandum epistolis 
libellisque legendis aut rescribendis vacaret; seu studio spectandi et 
voluptate," etc. — Vita Octavii, 45. 

9 Page 115. Writing three years later to Atticus, he says: "Con- 
firmabam omnium privatorum possessiones, is enim est noster exerci- 
tus, ut tute scis locupletium."— To Atticus, i. 19. Pomponius Atticus, 
Cicero's most intimate correspondent, was a Roman knight, who in- 
heriting a large estate from his father, increased it by contracts, 
banking, money-lending, and slave-dealing, in which he was deeply 
engaged. He was an accomplished, cultivated man, a shrewd observer 
of the times, and careful of committing himself on any side. His 
acquaintance with Cicero rested on similarity of temperament, with a 
solid financial basis at the bottom of it. They were mutually useful to 
each other. 

10 Page 116. " Et nimium istud est, quod ab hoc tribuno plebis dictum 
est in senatu: urbanam plebem nimium in republica posse: exhau- 
riendam esse: hoc enim verbo est usus; quasi de aliqua sentina, ac non 
de optimorum civium genere loqueretur." — Contra Rullum, ii. 26. 

11 Page 119. Cicero, Pro Murena, 25. 

12 Page 120. Murena was afterwards prosecuted for bribery at this 
election. Cicero defended him; but even Cato, aristocrat as he was, 
affected to be shocked at the virtuous consul's undertaking so bad a 
case. It is observable that in his speech for Murena, Cicero found as 
many virtues in Lucullus as in his speech on the Manilian Law he had 
found vices. It was another symptom of his change of attitude. 

13 Page 121. " In loco munitissimo." 

14 Page 123. This description of the young Roman aristocracy is 
given by Cicero in his most powerful vein: " Postremum autem genus 
est, non solum numero, verum etiam genere ipso atque vita, quod 

132 JULIUS CESAR [b.c. 63 

proprium est Catilinae, de ejus delectu, immo vero de complexu ejus ac 
sinu; quos pexo capillo, nitidos, aut imberbes, aut bene barbatos, 
videtis, manicatis et talaribus tunicis; velis amictos, non togis: 
quorum omnis industria vitae et vigilandi labor in antelucanis coenis 
expromitur. In his gregibus omnes aleatores, omnes adulteri, omnes 
impuri impudicique versantur. Hi pueri tarn lepidi ac delicati non 
solum amare et amari atque cantare et saltare, sed etiam sicas vibrare 
et spargere venena didicerunt. . . Nudiin conviviis saltare didicerunt." 
— In Catilinam, ii. 10. Compare In Pisonem, 10. 

The Romans shaved their beards at full maturity, and therefore 
4 * bene barbatos " does not mean grown men, but youths on the edge of 

15 Page 125. Not to be confounded with Lucius Calpurnius Piso, who 
was Caesar's father-in-law. 

16 Page 125. " Injussu populi." 

17 Page 127. The real opinion of educated Romans on this subject was 
expressed in the well-known lines of Lucretius, which were probably 
written near this very time : 

" Nil igitur mors est, ad nos neque pertinet hilum, 
Quandoquidem natura animi mortalis habetur : 
Et, velut ante acto nil tempore sensimus asgri, 
Ad confligendum venientibus undique Poenis ; 
Omnia cum belli trepido concussa tumultu, 
Horrida, contremuere sub altis aetheris auris ; 
In dubioque fuit sub utrorum regna cadendum 
Omnibus humanis esset, terraque, marique : 
Sic, ubi non erimus, cum corporis atque animai 
Discidium fuerit, quibus e sumus uniter apti, 
Scilicet haud nobis quicquam, qui non erimus turn, 
Accidere omnio poterit, sensumque movere : 
Non, si terra mari miscebitur, et mare coelo." 

—Lucretius lib. iii. 11. 842-854. 

18 Page 128. In the following century when Caesar's life had become 
mythic, a story was current that when Caesar was speaking on this oc- 
casion a note was brought in to him, and Cato, suspecting that it re- 
ferred to the conspiracy, insisted that it should be read. Caesar handed 
it to Cato, and it proved to be a love letter from Cato's sister, Servilia, 
the mother of Brutus. More will be said of the supposed liaison be- 
tween Caesar and Servilia hereafter. For the present it is enough to 
say that there is no contemporary evidence for the story at all ; and 
that if it be true that a note of some kind from Servilia was given to 
Caesar, it is more consistent with probability and the other circum- 
stances of the case, that it was an innocent note of business. Ladies 
do not send in compromising letters to their lovers when they are on their 
feet in Parliament ; nor, if such an accident should happen, do the 
lovers pass them over to be read by the ladies' brothers. 

19 Page 128. " Victrix causa Deis placuit, sed victa Catoni." — Lucan. 


THE execution of Lentulus and Cethegus was re- 
ceived in Rome with the feeling which Caesar had 
anticipated. There was no active sympathy with 
the conspiracy, but the conspiracy was forgotten in indig- 
nation at the lawless action of the consul and the Senate. 
It was still violence — always violence. Was law, men 
asked, never to resume its authority? — was the Senate to 
deal at its pleasure with the lives and properties of citizens? 
— criminals though they might be, what right had Cicero 
to strangle citizens in dungeons without trial? If this was 
to be allowed, the constitution was at an end; Rome was 
no longer a Republic, but an arbitrary oligarchy. Pom- 
pey's name was on every tongue. When would Pompey 
come? Pompey, the friend of the people, the terror of the 
aristocracy! Pompey, who had cleared the seas of pirates, 
and doubled the area of the Roman dominions! Let Pom- 
pey return and bring his army with him, and give to Rome 
the same peace and order which he had already given to 
the world. 

A Roman commander, on landing in Italy after foreign 
service, was expected to disband his legions, and relapse 
into the position of a private person. A popular and suc- 
cessful general was an object of instinctive fear to the poli- 
ticians who held the reins of government. The Senate was 
never pleased to see any individual too much an object of 
popular idolatry; and in the case of Pompey their suspicion 
was the greater, on account of the greatness of his achieve- 
ments, and because his command had been forced upon 
them by the people, against their will. In the absence of 
a garrison, the city was at the mercy of the patricians and 
their clients. That the noble lords were unscrupulous in 
removing persons whom they disliked they had shown in 


134 JULIUS CESAR [B.C. 62 

a hundred instances, and Pompey naturally enough hesi- 
tated to trust himself among them without security. He 
required the protection of office, and he had sent forward 
one of his most distinguished officers, Metellus Nepos, to 
prepare the way and demand the consulship for him. Me- 
tellus, to strengthen his hands, had stood for the tribune- 
ship; and, in spite of the utmost efforts of the aristocracy, 
had been elected. It fell to Metellus to be the first to give 
expression to the general indignation in a way peculiarly 
wounding to the illustrious consul. Cicero imagined that 
the world looked upon him as its saviour. In his own eyes 
he was another Romulus, a second founder of Rome. The 
world, unfortunately, had formed an entirely different esti- 
mate of him. The prisoners had been killed on the 5th of 
December. On the last day of the year it was usual for 
the outgoing consuls to review the events of their term of 
office before the Senate; and Cicero had prepared a speech 
in which he had gilded his own performances with all his 
eloquence. Metellus commenced his tribunate with for- 
forbidding Cicero to deliver his oration, and forbidding 
him on the special ground, that a man who had put Roman 
citizens to death without allowing them a hearing, did not 
himself deserve to be heard. In the midst of the con- 
fusion and uproar which followed, Cicero could only shriek 
that he had saved his country: a declaration which could 
have been dispensed with since he had so often insisted 
upon it already without producing the assent which he 

Notwithstanding his many fine qualities, Cicero was 
wanting in dignity. His vanity was wounded in its ten- 
derest point, and he attacked Metellus a day or two after, 
in one of those violently abusive outpourings, of which so 
many specimens of his own survive, and which happily so 
few other statesmen attempted to imitate. Metellus re- 
torted with a threat of impeaching Cicero, and the grave 
Roman Curia became no better than a kennel of mad dogs. 
For days the storm raged on with no symptom of abate- 
ment. At last, Metellus turned to the people and pro- 


posed in the assembly that Pompey should be recalled with 
his army to restore law and order. 

Caesar, who was now praetor, warmly supported Me- 
tellus. To him, if to no one else, it was clear as the sun 
at noonday, that unless some better government could be 
provided than could be furnished by five hundred such 
gentlemen as the Roman senators, the State was drifting 
on to destruction. Resolutions to be submitted to the 
people were generally first drawn in writing, and were read 
from the Rostra. When Metellus produced his proposal, 
Cato, who was a tribune also, sprang to his side, ordered 
him to be silent, and snatched the scroll out of his hands. 
Metellus went on, speaking from memory: Cato's friends 
shut his mouth by force. The patricians present drew 
their swords and cleared the Forum; and the Senate, in 
the exercise of another right to which they pretended, de- 
clared Caesar and Metellus degraded from their offices. 
Metellus, probably at Caesar's advice, withdrew and went 
off to Asia, to describe what had passed to Pompey. 
Caesar remained, and, quietly disregarding the Senate's 
sentence, continued to sit and hear cases as praetor. His 
court was forcibly closed. He yielded to violence and 
retired under protest, being escorted to the door of his 
house by an enormous multitude. There he dismissed his 
lictors and laid aside his official dress, that he might furnish 
no excuse for a charge against him of resisting the estab- 
lished authorities. The mob refused to be comforted. 
They gathered day after day. They clustered about the 
pontifical palace. They cried to Caesar to place himself 
at their head, that they might tear down the senate house, 
and turn the caitiffs into the street. Caesar neither then 
nor ever lent himself to popular excesses. He reminded 
the citizens that if others broke the law, they must them- 
selves set an example of obeying it, and he bade them re- 
turn to their homes. 

Terrified at the state of the city, and penitent for their 
injustice to Caesar, the Senate hurriedly revoked their de- 
cree of deposition, sent a deputation to him to apologize, 

136 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 62 

and invited him to resume his place among them. The 
extreme patrician section remained irreconcilable. Caesar 
complied, but only to find himself denounced again with 
passionate pertinacity as having been an accomplice of 
Catiline. Witnesses were produced, who swore to having 
seen his signature to a treasonable bond. Curius, Cicero's 
spy, declared that Catiline himself had told him that Caesar 
was one of the conspirators. Caesar treated the charge 
with indignant disdain. He appealed to Cicero's con- 
science, and Cicero was obliged to say that he had derived 
his earliest and most important information from Caesar 
himself. The most violent of his accusers were placed 
under arrest. The informers, after a near escape from 
being massacred by the crowd, were thrown into prison, 
and for a moment the furious heats were able to 

All eyes were now turned to Pompey. The war in Asia 
was over. Pompey, it was clear, must now return to re- 
ceive the thanks of his countrymen; and as he had tri- 
umphed in spite of the aristocracy, and as his victories 
could neither be denied nor undone, the best hope of the 
Senate was to win him over from the people, and to prevent 
a union between him and Caesar. Through all the recent 
dissensions Caesar had thrown his weight on Pompey's 
side. He, with Cicero, had urged Pompey's appointment 
to his successive commands. When Cicero went over to 
the patricians, Caesar had stood by Pompey's officers 
against the fury of the Senate. Caesar had the people 
behind him, and Pompey the army. Unless in some way 
an apple of discord could be thrown between them, the 
two favourites would overshadow the State, and the Sen- 
ate's authority would be gone. Nothing could be done 
for the moment politically. Pompey owed his position 
to the democracy, and he was too great as yet to fear Caesar 
as a rival in the Commonwealth. On the personal side 
there was better hope. Caesar was as much admired in the 
world of fashion as he was detested in the Curia. He had 
no taste for the brutal entertainments and more brutal vices 

B. c. 62] ROMAN SCANDALS 1 37 

of male patrician society. He preferred the companion- 
ship of cultivated women, and the noble lords had the fresh 
provocation of finding their hated antagonist an object of 
adoration to their wives and daughters. Here, at any rate, 
scandal had the field to itself. Caesar was accused of crimi- 
nal intimacy with many ladies of the highest rank, and 
Pompey was privately informed that his friend had taken 
advantage of his absence to seduce his wife, Mucia. Pom- 
pey was Agamemnon; Caesar had been iEgisthus; and 
Pompey was so far persuaded that Mucia had been unfaith- 
ful to him, that he divorced her before his return. 

Charges of this kind have the peculiar advantage that 
even when disproved or shown to be manifestly absurd, 
they leave a stain behind them. Careless equally of prob- 
ability and decency, the leaders of the Senate sacrificed 
without scruple the reputation of their own relatives if only 
they could make Caesar odious. The name of Servilia has 
been mentioned already. Servilia was the sister of Marcus 
Cato and the mother of Marcus Brutus. She was a 
woman of remarkable ability and character, and between 
her and Caesar there was undoubtedly a close acquaintance 
and a strong mutual affection. The world discovered that 
she was Caesar's mistress, and that Brutus was his son. 
It might be enough to say that when Brutus was born 
Caesar was scarcely fifteen years old, and that, if a later 
intimacy existed between them, Brutus knew nothing of 
it or cared nothing for it. When he stabbed Caesar at last 
it was not as a Hamlet or an Orestes, but as a patriot sacri- 
ficing his dearest friend to his country. The same doubt 
extends to the other supposed victims of Caesar's seduc- 
tiveness. Names were mentioned in the following cen- 
tury, but no particulars were given. For the most part 
his alleged mistresses were the wives of men who remained 
closely attached to him notwithstanding. The report of 
his intrigue with Mucia answered its immediate purpose, 
in producing a temporary coldness on Pompey's part to- 
ward Caesar; but Pompey must either have discovered the 
story to be false or else have condoned it, for soon after- 

138 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 62 

wards he married Caesar's daughter. Two points may be 
remarked about these legends: first, that on no single oc- 
casion does Caesar appear to have been involved in any 
trouble or quarrel on account of his love affairs; and sec- 
ondly, that, with the exception of Brutus and of Cleo- 
patra's Caesarion, whose claims to be Caesar's son were de- 
nied and disproved, there is no record of any illegitimate 
children as the result of these amours — a strange thing if 
Caesar was as liberal of his favours as popular scandal pre- 
tended. It would be idle to affect a belief that Caesar was 
particularly virtuous. He was a man of the world, living 
in an age as corrupt as has been ever known. It would 
be equally idle to assume that all the ink blots thrown 
upon him were certainly deserved, because we find them 
in books which we call classical. Proof deserving to be 
called proof there is none; and the only real evidence is 
the town talk of a society which feared and hated Caesar, 
and was glad of every pretext to injure him when 
alive, or to discredit him after his death. Similar stories 
have been spread, are spread, and will be spread of every 
man who raises himself a few inches above the level of his 
fellows. We know how it is with our contemporaries. A 
single seed of fact will produce in a season or two a har- 
vest of calumnies, and sensible men pass such things by, 
and pay no attention to them. With history we are less 
careful or less charitable. An accusation of immorality is 
accepted without examination when brought against emi- 
nent persons who can no longer defend themselves, and to 
raise a doubt of its truth passes as a sign of a weak under- 
standing. So let it be. It is certain that Caesar's contem- 
poraries spread rumours of a variety of intrigues, in which 
they said that he was concerned. It is probable that some 
were well founded. It is possible that all were well 
founded. But it is no less indubitable that they rest 
on evidence which is not evidence at all, and that the 
most innocent intimacies would not have escaped misrep- 
resentation from the venomous tongues of Roman society. 
Caesar comes into court with a fairer character than those 

B. c. 62] ROMAN SCANDALS 139 

whose virtues are thought to overshadow him. Marriage, 
which under the ancient Romans was the most sacred of 
ties, had become the lightest and the loosest. Cicero di- 
vorced Terentia when she was old and ill-tempered, and 
married a young woman. Cato made over his Marcia, the 
mother of his children, to his friend Hortensius, and took 
her back as a wealthy widow when Hortensius died. 
Pompey put away his first wife at Sylla's bidding, and took 
a second who was already the wife of another man. 
Caesar, when little more than a boy, dared the Dictator's 
displeasure rather than condescend to a similar compli- 
ance. His worst enemies admitted that from the gluttony, 
the drunkenness, and the viler forms of sensuality, which 
were then so common, he was totally free. For the rest, 
it is certain that no friend ever permanently quarrelled with 
him on any question of domestic injury; and either there 
was a general indifference on such subjects, which lightens 
the character of the sin, or popular scandals in old Rome 
were of no sounder material than we find them composed 
of in other countries and in other times. 

Turning from scandal to reality, we come now to a 
curious incident, which occasioned a fresh political con- 
vulsion, where Caesar appears, not as an actor in an affair 
of gallantry, but as a sufferer. 

Pompey was still absent. Caesar had resumed his du- 
ties as a praetor, and was living in the official house of the 
Pontifex Maximus, with his mother Aurelia and his wife 
Pompeia. The age was fertile of new religions. The 
worship of the Bona Dea, a foreign goddess of unknown 
origin, had recently been introduced into Rome, and an 
annual festival was held in her honour in the house of one 
or other of the principal magistrates. The Vestal virgins 
officiated at the ceremonies, and women only were per- 
mitted to be present. This year the pontifical palace was 
selected for the occasion, and Caesar's wife Pompeia was to 

The reader may remember a certain youth named Clo- 
dius, who had been with Lucullus in Asia, and had been 

I40 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 62 

a chief instigator of the mutiny in his army. He was Lu- 
cullus's brother-in-law, a member of the Claudian family, 
a patrician of the patricians, and connected by blood and 
marriage with the proudest members of the Senate. If 
Cicero is to be believed, he had graduated even while a 
boy in every form of vice, natural and unnatural. He was 
bold, clever, unprincipled, and unscrupulous, with a slender 
diminutive figure and a delicate woman's face. His name 
was Clodius Pulcher. Cicero played upon it and called 
him Pulchellus Puer, " the pretty boy." Between this 
promising young man and Caesar's wife Pompeia there had 
sprung up an acquaintance, which Clodius was anxious to 
press to further extremes. Pompeia was difficult of ac- 
cess, her mother-in-law Aurelia keeping a strict watch 
over her; and Clodius, who was afraid of nothing, took ad- 
vantage of the Bona Dea festival to make his way into 
Caesar's house dressed as a woman. Unfortunately for 
him, his disguise was detected. The insulted Vestals and 
the other ladies who were present flew upon him like the 
dogs of Actaeon, tore his borrowed garments from him, 
and drove him into the street naked and wounded. The 
adventure became known. It was mentioned in the Sen- 
ate, and the College of Priests was ordered to hold an in- 
quiry. The College found that Clodius had committed 
sacrilege, and the regular course in such cases was to send 
the offender to trial. There was general unwillingness, 
however, to treat the matter seriously. Clodius had many 
friends in the house, and even Cicero, who was inclined at 
first to be severe, took on reflection a more lenient view. 
Clodius had a sister, a light lady who, weary of her con- 
quests over her fashionable admirers, had tried her fascina- 
tions on the great orator. He had escaped complete sub- 
jugation, but he had been flattered by the attention of the 
seductive beauty, and was ready to help her brother out of 
his difficulty. Clodius was not yet the dangerous des- 
perado which he afterwards became; and immorality, 
though seasoned with impiety, might easily, it was 
thought, be made too much of. Caesar himself did not 

B. c. 61] TRIAL OF CLODIUS 141 

press for punishment. As president of the college, he had 
acquiesced in their decision, and he divorced the unfor- 
tunate Pompeia; but he expressed no opinion as to the 
extent of her criminality, and he gave as his reason for 
separating from her, not that she was guilty, but that 
Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. 

Cato, however, insisted on a prosecution. Messala, one 
of the consuls, was equally peremptory. The hesitation 
was regarded by the stricter senators as a scandal to the 
order; and in spite of the efforts of the second consul Piso, 
who was a friend of Clodius, it was decided that a bill for 
his indictment should be submitted to the assembly in the 
Forum. Clodius, it seems, was generally popular. No 
political question was raised by the proceedings against 
him; for the present his offence was merely a personal one; 
the wreck of Catiline's companions, the dissolute young 
aristocrats, the loose members of all ranks and classes, 
took up the cause, and gathered to support their favourite, 
with young Curio, whom Cicero called in mockery Filiola, 
at their head. The approaches to the Forum were occu- 
pied by them. Piso, by whom the bill was introduced, 
himself advised the people to reject it. Cato flew to the 
Rostra and railed at the consul. Hortensius, the orator, 
and many others spoke on the same side. It appeared at 
last that the people were divided, and would consent to 
the bill being passed, if it was recommended to them by 
both the consuls. Again, therefore, the matter was re- 
ferred to the Senate. One of the tribunes introduced 
Clodius, that he might speak for himself. Cicero had now 
altered his mind, and was in favour of the prosecution. 

The " pretty youth " was alternately humble and vio- 
lent, begging pardon, and then bursting into abuse of his 
brother-in-law, Lucullus, and more particularly of Cicero, 
whom he suspected of being the chief promoter of the 
proceedings against him. When it came to a division, the 
Senate voted by a majority of four hundred to fifteen that 
the consuls must recommend the bill. Piso gave way, and 
the tribune also who had been in Clodius's favour. The 

142 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 61 

people were satisfied, and a court of fifty-six judges was 
appointed, before whom the trial was to take place. It 
seemed that a conviction must necessarily follow, for there 
was no question about the facts, which were all admitted. 
There was some manoeuvring, however, in the constitution 
of the court, which raised Cicero's suspicions. The judges, 
instead of being selected by the praetor, were chosen by 
lot, and the prisoner was allowed to challenge as many 
names as he pleased. The result was that in Cicero's 
opinion a more scandalous set of persons than those who 
were finally sworn were never collected round a gaming 
table, — " disgraced senators, bankrupt knights, disrep- 
utable tribunes of the treasury, the few honest men 
that were left appearing to be ashamed of their company," 
— and Cicero considered that it would have been better if 
Hortensius, who was prosecuting, had withdrawn, and had 
left Clodius to be condemned by the general sense of re- 
spectable people, rather than risk the credit of Roman 
justice before so scandalous a tribunal. 1 Still the case as it 
proceeded appeared so clear as to leave no hope of an ac- 
quittal. Clodius's friends were in despair, and were medi- 
tating an appeal to the mob. The judges, on the evening 
of the first day of the trial, as if they had already decided 
on a verdict of guilty, applied for a guard to protect them 
while they delivered it. The Senate complimented them 
in giving their consent. With a firm expectation present 
in all men's minds the second morning dawned. Even 
in Rome, accustomed as it was to mockeries of justice, pub- 
lic opinion was shocked when the confident anticipation 
was disappointed. According to Cicero, Marcus Crassus, 
for reasons known to himself, had been interested in Clo- 
dius. During the night he sent for the judges one by one. 
He gave them money. What else he either gave or prom- 
ised them, must continue veiled in Cicero's Latin. 2 Be- 
fore these influences the resolution of the judges melted 
away, and when the time came, thirty-one out of fifty-six 
high-born Roman peers and gentlemen declared Clodius 


The original cause was nothing. That a profligate 
young man should escape punishment for a licentious frolic 
was comparatively of no consequence; but the trial ac- 
quired a notoriety of infamy which shook once more the 
already tottering constitution. 

" Why did you ask for a guard? " old Catulus growled 
to the judges: " was it that the money you had received 
might not be taken from you? " 

" Such is the history of this affair," Cicero wrote to his 
friend Atticus. " We thought that the foundation of the 
Commonwealth had been surely re-established in my con- 
sulship, all orders of good men being happily united. You 
gave the praise to me and I to the gods; and now unless 
some god looks favourably on us, all is lost in this single 
judgment. Thirty Romans have been found to trample 
justice under foot for a bribe, and to declare an act not to 
have been committed, about which not only not a man, 
but not a beast of the field, can entertain the smallest 
doubt. ,, 

Cato threatened the judges with impeachment; Cicero 
stormed in the Senate, rebuked the consul Piso, and lec- 
tured Clodius in a speech which he himself admired ex- 
ceedingly. The " pretty boy ,s in reply taunted Cicero 
with wishing to make himself a king. Cicero rejoined with 
asking Clodius about a man named " King," whose estates 
he had appropriated, and reminded him of a misadventure 
among the pirates, from which he had come off with name- 
less ignominy. Neither antagonist very honourably dis- 
tinguished himself in this encounter of wit. The Senate 
voted at last for an inquiry into the judges' conduct; but 
an inquiry only added to Cicero's vexation, for his special 
triumph had been, as he conceived, the union of the Sen- 
ate with the Equites; and the Equites took the resolution 
as directed against themselves, and refused to be consoled. 3 

Caesar had been absent during these scenes. His term 
of office having expired, he had been despatched as pro- 
praetor to Spain, where the ashes of the Sertorian rebel- 
lion were still smouldering; and he had started for his 

144 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 6i 

province while the question of Clodius's trial was still pend- 
ing. Portugal and Gallicia were still unsubdued. Bands 
of robbers lay everywhere in the fastnesses of the moun- 
tain ranges. Caesar was already favourably known in 
Spain for his service as quaestor. He now completed the 
conquest of the Peninsula. He put down the banditti. 
He reorganized the administration with the rapid skill 
which always so remarkably distinguished him. He sent 
home large sums of money to the treasury. His work 
was done quickly, but it was done completely. He no- 
where left an unsound spot unprobed. He never con- 
tented himself with the superficial healing of a wound 
which would break out again when he was gone. What 
he began he finished, and left it in need of no further sur- 
gery. As his reward, he looked for a triumph and the 
consulship, one or both; and the consulship he knew could 
not well be refused to him, unwelcome as it would be to 
the Senate. 

Pompey meanwhile was at last coming back. All lesser 
luminaries shone faint before the sun of Pompey, the sub- 
duer of the pirates, the conqueror of Asia, the glory of the 
Roman name. Even Cicero had feared that the fame of 
the saviour of his country might pale before the lustre of 
the great Pompey. " I used to be in alarm," he confessed 
with naive simplicity, " that six hundred years hence the 
merits of Sampsiceramus 4 might seem to have been more 
than mine." 5 But how would Pompey appear? Would 
he come at the head of his army, like Sylla, the armed sol- 
dier of the democracy, to avenge the affront upon his offi- 
cers, to reform the State, to punish the Senate for the mur- 
der of the Catiline conspirators? Pompey had no such 
views, and no capacity for such ambitious operations. 
The ground had been prepared beforehand. The Mucia 
story had perhaps done its work, and the Senate and the 
great commander were willing to meet each other, at least 
with outward frendliness. 

His successes had been brilliant; but they were due 
rather to his honesty than to his military genius. He had 

B. c. 61] POMPEY'S RETURN 145 

encountered no real resistance, and Cato had sneered at his 
exploits as victories over women. He had put down the 
buccaneers, because he had refused to be bribed by them. 
He had overthrown Mithridates and had annexed Asia 
Minor and Syria to the Roman dominions. Lucullus 
could have done it as easily as his successor, if he could 
have turned his back upon temptations to increase his own 
fortune or gratify his own passions. The wealth of the 
East had lain at Pompey's feet, and he had not touched it. 
He had brought millions into the treasury. He returned, 
as he had gone out, himself moderately provided for, and 
had added nothing to his private income. He understood, 
and practised strictly, the common rules of morality. He 
detested dishonesty and injustice. But he had no politi- 
cal insight; and if he was ambitious, it was with the inno- 
cent vanity which desires, and is content with, admiration. 
In the time of the Scipios he would have lived in an at- 
mosphere of universal applause, and would have died in 
honour with an unblemished name. In the age of Clodius 
and Catiline he was the easy dupe of men of stronger in- 
tellect than his own, who played upon his unsuspicious in- 
tegrity. His delay in coming back had arisen chiefly from 
anxiety for his personal safety. He was eager to be rec- 
onciled to the Senate, yet without deserting the people. 
While in Asia, he had reassured Cicero that nothing was 
to be feared from him. 6 His hope was to find friends on all 
sides and in all parties, and he thought that he had de- 
served their friendship. 

Thus when Pompey landed at Brindisi his dreaded 
legions were disbanded, and he proceeded to the Capitol, 
with a train of captive princes as the symbols of his vic- 
tories, and wagons loaded with treasure as an offering to 
his country. He was received as he advanced with the 
shouts of applauding multitudes. He entered Rome in a 
galaxy of glory. A splendid column commemorated the 
cities which he had taken, the twelve million human be- 
ings whom he had slain or subjected. His triumph was 

the most magnificent which the Roman citizens had ever 

I46 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 6x 

witnessed, and by special vote he was permitted to wear 
his triumphal robe in the Senate as often and as long as 
might please him. The fireworks over, and with the aure- 
ole of glory about his brow, the great Pompey, like an- 
other Samson shorn of his locks, dropped into impotence 
and insignificance. In February, 61, during the debate on 
the Clodius affair, he made his first speech in the Senate. 
Cicero, listening with malicious satisfaction, reported that 
" Pompey gave no pleasure to the wretched; to the bad he 
seemed without back-bone; he was not agreeable to the 
well-to-do; the wise and good found him wanting in sub- 
stance; " 7 in short, the speech was a failure. Pompey ap- 
plied for a second consulship. He was reminded that he 
had been consul eight years previously, and that the ten 
years' interval prescribed by Sylla, between the first and 
the second term, had not expired. He asked for lands for 
his soldiers, and for the ratification of his acts in Asia. 
Cato opposed the first request, as likely to lead to another 
Agrarian law. Lucullus, who was jealous of him, raised 
difficulties about the second, and thwarted him with con- 
tinual delays. 

Pompey, being a poor speaker, thus found himself en- 
tirely helpless in the new field. Cicero, being relieved of 
fear from him as a rival, was wise enough to see that the 
collapse might not continue, and that his real qualities 
might again bring him to the front. The Clodius busi- 
ness had been a frightful scandal, and, smooth as the sur- 
face might seem, ugly cracks were opening all round the 
constitution. The disbanded legions were impatient for 
their farms. The knights, who were already offended 
with the Senate for having thrown the disgrace of the Clo- 
dius trial upon them, had a fresh and more substantial 
grievance. The leaders of the order had contracted to 
farm the revenues in Asia. They found that the terms 
which they had offered were too high, and they claimed 
an abatement, which the Senate refused to allow. The 
Catiline conspiracy should have taught the necessity of a 
vigorous administration. Caecilius Metellus and Lucius 


Afranius, who had been chosen consuls for the year 60, 
were mere nothings. Metellus was a vacant aristocrat, 8 
to be depended on for resisting popular demands, but with- 
out insight otherwise; the second, Afranius, was a person 
" on whom only a philosopher could look without a 
groan;" 9 and one year more might witness the consulship 
of Caesar. " I have not a friend," Cicero wrote, " to whom 
I can express my real thoughts. Things cannot long 
stand as they are. I have been vehement: I have put out 
all my strength in the hope of mending matters and heal- 
ing our disorders, but we will not endure the necessary 
medicine. The seat of justice has been publicly debauched. 
Resolutions are introduced against corruption, but no law 
can be carried. The knights are alienated. The Senate 
has lost its authority. The concord of the orders is gone, 
and the pillars of the Commonwealth which I set up are 
overthrown. We have not a statesman, or the shadow of 
one. My friend Pompey, who might have done something, 
sits silent, admiring his fine clothes. 10 Crassus will say 
nothing to make himself unpopular, and the rest are such 
idiots as to hope that although the constitution fall they 
will save their own fish-ponds. 11 Cato, the best man that 
we have, is more honest than wise. For these three 
months he has been worrying the revenue farmers, and will 
not let the Senate satisfy them." 12 

It was time for Cicero to look about him. The Catiline 
affair was not forgotten. He might still be called to an- 
swer for the executions, and he felt that he required some 
stronger support than an aristocracy who would learn 
nothing and seemed to be bent on destroying themselves. 
In letter after letter he pours out his contempt for his 
friends " of the fish-ponds," as he called them, who would 
neither mend their ways nor let others mend them. He 
would not desert them altogether, but he provided for 
contingencies. The tribunes had taken up the cause of 
Pompey's legionaries. Agrarian laws were threatened, 
and Pompey himself was most eager to see his soldiers 
satisfied. Cicero, who had hitherto opposed an Agrarian 

148 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 60 

law with all his violence, discovered now that something 
might be said in favour of draining " the sink of the city," 13 
and repeopling Italy. Besides the public advantage, he 
felt that he would please the mortified but still popular 
Pompey; and he lent his help in the Senate to improving 
a bill introduced by the tribunes, and endeavouring, 
though unsuccessfully, to push it through. 

So grateful was Pompey for Cicero's support, that he 
called him, in the Senate, " the saviour of the world." 14 
Cicero was delighted with the phrase, and began to look 
to Pompey as a convenient ally. He thought that he 
could control and guide him and use his popularity for 
moderate measures. Nay, even in his despair of the aris- 
tocracy, he began to regard as not impossible a coalition 
with Caesar. " You caution me about Pompey," he wrote 
to Atticus in the following July. " Do not suppose that I 
am attaching myself to him for my own protection; but 
the state of things is such, that if we two disagree the worst 
misfortunes may be feared. I make no concessions to 
him, I seek to make him better, and to cure him of his 
popular levity; and now he speaks more highly by far of 
my actions than of his own. He has merely done well, 
he says, while I have saved the State. However this may 
affect me, it is certainly good for the Commonwealth. 
What if I can make Caesar better also, who is now coming 
on with wind and tide? Will that be so bad a thing? 
Even if I had no enemies, if I was supported as universally 
as I ought to be, still a medicine which will cure the dis- 
eased parts of the State is better than the surgery which 
would amputate them. The knights have fallen off from 
the Senate. The noble lords think they are in heaven 
when they have barbel in their ponds that will eat out of 
their hands, and leave the rest to fate. You cannot love 
Cato more than I love him, but he does harm with the best 
intentions. He speaks as if he was in Plato's Republic, 
instead of being in the dregs of that of Romulus. Most 
true that corrupt judges ought to be punished! Cato pro- 
posed it, the Senate agreed; but the knights have de- 


clared war upon the Senate. Most insolent of the revenue 
farmers to throw up their contract! Cato resisted them, 
and carried his point; but now when seditions break out, 
the knights will not lift a finger to repress them. Are we 
to hire mercenaries? Are we to depend on our slaves and 
freedmen? . . . But enough. " 15 

Cicero might well despair of a Senate who had taken 
Cato to lead them. Pompey had come home in the best 
of dispositions. The Senate had offended Pompey, and, 
more than that, had offended his legionaries. They had 
quarrelled with the knights. They had quarrelled with the 
moneyed interests. They now added an entirely gratuit- 
ous affront to Caesar. His Spanish administration was ad- 
mitted by everyone to have been admirable. He was 
coming to stand for the consulship, which could not be re- 
fused; but he asked for a triumph also, and as the rule stood 
there was a difficulty, for if he was to have a triumph, he 
must remain outside the walls till the day fixed for it, and 
if he was a candidate for office, he must be present in per- 
son on the day of the election. The custom, though con- 
venient in itself, had been more than once set aside. 
Caesar applied to the Senate for a dispensation, which 
would enable him to be a candidate in his absence; and 
Cato, either from mere dislike of Caesar, or from a hope 
that he might prefer vanity to ambition, and that the 
dreaded consulship might be escaped, persuaded the Sen- 
ate to refuse. If this was the expectation, it was disap- 
pointed. Caesar dropped his triumph, came home, and went 
through the usual forms, and it at once appeared that his 
election was certain, and that every powerful influence in 
the State was combined in his favour. From Pompey he 
met the warmest reception. The Mucia bubble had burst. 
Pompey saw in Caesar only the friend who had stood by 
him in every step of his later career, and had braved the 
fury of the Senate at the side of his officer Metellus Nepos. 
Equally certain it was, that Caesar, as a soldier, would in- 
terest himself for Pompey's legionaries, and that they could 
be mutually useful to each other. Caesar had the people 

150 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 60 

at his back, and Pompey had the army. The third great 
power in Rome was that of the capitalists, and about the 
attitude of these there was at first some uncertainty. 
Crassus, who was the impersonation of them, was a friend 
of Caesar, but had been on bad terms with Pompey. 
Caesar, however, contrived to reconcile them; and thus all 
parties outside the patrician circle were combined for a 
common purpose. Could Cicero have taken his place 
frankly at their side, as his better knowledge told him to 
do, the inevitable revolution might have been accomplished 
without bloodshed, and the course of history have been 
different. Caesar wished it. But it was not to be. Cicero 
perhaps found that he would have to be content with a 
humbler position than he had anticipated, that in such a 
combination he would have to follow rather than to lead. 
He was tempted. He saw a promise of peace, safety, in- 
fluence, if not absolute, yet considerable. But he could 
not bring himself to sacrifice the proud position which he 
had won for himself in his consulship, as leader of the 
Conservatives; and he still hoped to reign in the Senate, 
while using the protection of the popular chiefs as a shel- 
ter in time of storms. 

Caesar was chosen consul without opposition. His 
party was so powerful that it seemed at one time as if he 
could name his colleague, but the Senate succeeded with 
desperate efforts in securing the second place. They sub- 
scribed money profusely, the immaculate Cato prominent 
among them. The machinery of corruption was well in 
order. The great nobles commanded the votes of their 
clientele, and they succeeded in giving Caesar the same 
companion who had accompanied him through the aedile- 
ship and the praetorship, Marcus Bibulus, a dull, obstinate 
fool, who could be relied on, if for nothing else, yet for 
dogged resistance to every step which the Senate disap- 
proved. For the moment they appeared to have thought 
that with Bibulus's help they might defy Caesar, and reduce 
his office to a nullity. Immediately on the election of the 
consuls, it was usual to determine the provinces to which 


they were to be appointed when their consulate should ex- 
pire. The regulation lay with the Senate, and, either in 
mere spleen or to prevent Caesar from having the com- 
mand of an army, they allotted him the department of the 
" Woods and Forests." 16 A very few weeks had to pass 
before they discovered that they had to do with a man 
who was not to be turned aside so slightingly. 

Hitherto Caesar had been feared and hated, but his pow- 
ers were rather suspected than understood. As the nephew 
of Marius and the son-in-law of Cinna, he was the natural 
chief of the party which had once governed Rome, and had 
been trampled under the hoof of Sylla. He had shown on 
many occasions that he had inherited his uncle's princi- 
ples and could be daring and skilful in asserting them. 
But he had held carefully within the constitutional lines; 
he had kept himself clear of conspiracies; he had never, like 
the Gracchi, put himself forward as a tribune or attempted 
the part of a popular agitator. When he had exerted him- 
self in the political world of Rome, it had been to main- 
tain the law against violence, to resist and punish encroach- 
ments of arbitrary power, or to rescue the Empire from 
being gambled away by incapable or profligate aristocrats. 
Thus he had gathered for himself the animosity of the 
fashionable upper classes and the confidence of the body 
of the people. But what he would do in power, or what 
it was in him to do, was as yet merely conjectural. 

At all events, after an interval of a generation, there was 
again a popular consul, and on every side there was a har- 
vest of iniquities ready for the sickle. Sixty years had 
passed since the death of the younger Gracchus; revolution 
after revolution had swept over the Commonwealth, and 
Italy was still as Tiberius Gracchus had found it. The 
Gracchan colonists had disappeared. The Syllan military 
proprietors had disappeared — one by one they had fallen 
to beggary, and had sold their holdings, and again the 
country was parcelled into enormous estates cultivated by 
slave gangs. The Italians had been emancipated, but the 
process had gone no further. The libertini, the sons of the 

152 JULIUS C^SAR [B.C. 59 

freedmen, still waited for equality of rights. The rich and 
prosperous provinces beyond the Po remained unenfran- 
chised, while the value of the franchise itself was daily di- 
minishing as the Senate resumed its control over the 
initiative of legislation. Each year the elections became 
more corrupt. The Clodius judgment had been the most 
frightful instance which had yet occurred of the depravity 
of the law courts; while, by Cicero's own admission, not a 
single measure could pass beyond discussion into act which 
threatened the interests of the oligarchy. The consulship 
of Caesar was looked to with hope from the respectable 
part of the citizens, with alarm from the high-born delin- 
quents as a period of genuine reform. The new consuls 
were to enter office on the ist of January. In Decem- 
ber it was known that an Agrarian law would be at once 
proposed under plea of providing for Pompey's troops; 
and Cicero had to decide whether he would act in earnest 
in the spirit which he had begun to show when the trib- 
unes' bill was under discussion, or would fall back upon 
resistance with the rest of his party, or evade the difficult 
dilemma by going on foreign service, or else would simply 
absent himself from Rome while the struggle was going 
on. " I may either resist," he said, " and there will be an 
honourable fight; or may do nothing, and withdraw into 
the country, which will be honourable also; or I may give 
active help, which I am told Caesar expects of me. His 
friend, Cornelius Balbus, who was with me lately, affirms 
that Caesar will be guided in everything by my advice and 
Pompey's and will use his endeavour to bring Pompey 
and Crassus together. Such a course has its advantages; 
it will draw me closely to Pompey and, if I please, to 
Caesar. I shall have no more to fear from my enemies. I 
shall be at peace with the people. I can look to quiet in 
my old age. But the lines still move me which conclude 
the third book (of my poem on my consulship) : ' Hold to 
the track on which thou enteredst in thy early youth, which 
thou pursuedst as consul so valorously and bravely. In- 
crease thy fame, and seek the praise of the good.' " 1T 


It had been proposed to send Cicero on a mission to 
Egypt. ' I should like well, and I have long wished," he 
said, " to see Alexandria and the rest of that country. 
They have had enough of me here at present, and they 
may wish for me when I am away. But to go now, and 
to go on commission from Caesar and Pompey! 

I should blush 
To face the men and long-robed dames of Troy. 18 

What will our Optimates say, if we have any Optimates 
left? Polydamas will throw in my teeth that I have been 
bribed by the Opposition — I mean Cato, who is one out 
of a hundred thousand to me. What will history say of 
me six hundred years hence? I am more afraid of that 
than of the chatter of my contemporaries." 19 

So Cicero meditated, thinking as usual of himself first 
and of his duty afterwards — the fatalest of all courses then 
and always. 


1 Page 142. " Si causam quseris absolutionis, egestas judicum fuit et 
turpitudo . . . Non vidit (Hortensius) satius esse ilium in infamh? re- 
linqui ac sordibus quam infirmo judicio committi." — To Atticus, i. 16. 

9 Page 142. " Jam vero, oh Dii Boni ! rem perditam ! etiam noctes cer- 
tarum mulierum atque adolescentulorum nobilium introductiones 
nonnuliis judicious pro mercedis cumulo fuerunt." — To Atticus, i. 16. 

3 Page 143. " Nos hie in republica infirma, misera commutabilique ver- 
samur. Credo enim te audisse, nostros equites paene a senatu esse dis- 
junctos ; qui primum illud valde graviter tulerunt, promulgatum ex 
senatus consulto fuisse, ut de iis, qui ob judicandum pecuniam accepis- 
sent qusereretur. Qua in re decernenda cum ego casu non affuissem, 
sensissemque id equestrem ordinemferre moleste, neque aperte dicere ; 
objurgavi senatum, ut mihi visus sum, summa cum auctoritate, et in 
causa non verecundB admodum gravis et copiosus fui." — To Atticus, i. 
ii. 17. 

4 Page 144. A nickname under which Cicero often speaks of Pompey. 

5 Page 144. " Solebat enim me pungere, ne Sampsicerami merita in 
patriam ad annos DC majora viderentur, quam nostra." — To Atticus, 


6 Page 145. " Pompeius nobis amicissimus esse constat." — To Atticus, 
i. 12. 

1 Page 146. "Non jucunda miseris, inanis improbis, beatis non grata, 
bonis non gravis. Itaque frigebat." — To Atticus, i. 14. 

8 Page 147. " Metellus non homo, sed litus atque aer, et solitudo 
mera."— To Atticus, i. 18. 

154 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 59 

9 Page 147. ■■ Consul est impositus is nobis, quern nemo, prseter nos 
philosophos, aspicere sine suspiritu potest." — To Atticus. 

10 Page 147. " Pompeius togulam illam pictam silentio tuetur suam." — 
To Atticus. The "picta togula" means the triumphal robe which 
Pompey was allowed to wear. 

11 Page 147. " Ceteros jam nosti ; qui ita suntstulti, ut amissa repub- 
lica piscinas suas fore salvas sperare videantur." — To Atticus. 

12 Page 147. To Atticus, i. 18, abridged. 

13 Page 148. " Sentinam urbis," a worse word than he had blamed in 
Rullus three years before. — To Atticus, i. 19. 

14 Page 148. " Pompeium adduxi in earn voluntatem, ut in Senatunon 
semel, sed ssepe, multisque verbis, hujus mihi salutem imperii atque 
orbis terrarum adjudicarit." — To Atticus. 

15 Page 149. To Atticus, ii. 1, abridged. 

16 Page 151. Silvse callesque — to which " woods and forests " is a near 

17 Page 152. "Interea cursus, quos prima, a parte juventae, 
Quosque ideo consul virtute animoque petisti, 
Hos retine atque auge famam laudesque bonorum." 

—To Atticus, ii, 3. 

18 Page 153. " Iliad," vi. 442. Lord Derby's translation. 

19 Page 153. To Atticus. 


THE consulship of Caesar was the last chance for 
the Roman aristocracy. He was not a revo- 
lutionist. Revolutions are the last desperate 
remedy when all else has failed. They may create 
as many evils as they cure, and wise men always 
hate them. But if revolution was to be escaped, 
reform was inevitable, and it was for the Senate to 
choose between the alternatives. Could the noble lords 
have known, then, in that their day, the things that be- 
longed to their peace — could they have forgotten their 
fish-ponds and their game preserves, and have remem- 
bered that, as the rulers of the civilized world, they had 
duties which the eternal order of nature would exact at 
their hands, the shaken constitution might again have re- 
gained stability, and the forms and even the reality of the 
Republic might have continued for another century. It 
was not to be. Had the Senate been capable of using the 
opportunity, they would long before have undertaken 
a reformation for themselves. Even had their eyes been 
opened, there were disintegrating forces at work which 
the highest political wisdom could do no more than arrest; 
and little good is really effected by prolonging artificially 
the lives of either constitutions or individuals beyond their 
natural period. From the time when Rome became an 
Empire, mistress of provinces to which she was unable to 
extend her own liberties, the days of her self-government 
were numbered. A homogeneous and vigorous people 
may manage their own affairs under a popular constitu- 
tion so long as their personal characters remain undegene- 
rate. Parliaments and Senates may represent the general 
will of the community, and may pass laws and administer 
them as public sentiment approves. But such bodies can 


156 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 59 

preside successfully only among subjects who are directly 
represented in them. They are too ignorant, too selfish, 
too divided, to govern others; and Imperial aspirations 
draw after them, by obvious necessity, an Imperial rule. 
Caesar may have known this in his heart, yet the most far- 
seeing statesman will not so trust his own misgivings as to 
refuse to hope for the regeneration of the institutions into 
which he is born. He will determine that justice shall be 
done. Justice is the essence of government, and without 
justice all forms, democratic or monarchic, are tyrannies 
alike. But he will work with the existing methods till the 
inadequacy of them has been proved beyond dispute. 
Constitutions are never overthrown till they have pro- 
nounced sentence on themselves. 

Caesar accordingly commenced office by an endeavour to 
conciliate. The army and the moneyed interests, repre- 
sented by Pompey and Crassus, were already with him; 
and he used his endeavours, as has been seen, to gain 
Cicero, who might bring with him such part of the landed 
aristocracy as were not hopelessly incorrigible. With 
Cicero he but partially succeeded. The great orator 
solved the problem of the situation by going away into the 
country and remaining there for the greater part of the 
year, and Caesar had to do without an assistance which, in 
the speaking department, would have been invaluable to 
him. His first step was to order the publication of the 
" Acta Diurna," a daily journal of the doings of the Senate. 
The light of day being thrown in upon that august body 
might prevent honourable members from laying hands 
on each other as they had lately done, and might enable 
the people to know what was going on among them — on 
a better authority than rumour. He then introduced his 
Agrarian law, the rough draft of which had been already 
discussed, and had been supported by Cicero in the pre- 
ceding year. Had he meant to be defiant, like the Grac- 
chi, he might have offered it at once to the people. In- 
stead of doing so, he laid it before the Senate, inviting 
them to amend his suggestions, and promising any reas- 

B. c. 59] AN AGRARIAN LAW 157 

onable concessions if they would co-operate. No wrong 
was to be done to any existing occupiers. No right of 
property was to be violated which was any real right at 
all. Large tracts in Campania which belonged to the 
State were now held on the usual easy terms by great 
landed patricians. These Caesar proposed to buy out, and 
to settle on the ground twenty thousand of Pompey's 
veterans. There was money enough and to spare in the 
treasury, which they had themselves brought home. Out 
of the large funds which would still remain, land might be 
purchased in other parts of Italy for the rest, and for a 
few thousand of the unemployed population which was 
crowded into Rome. The measure in itself was admitted 
to be a moderate one. Every pains had been taken to 
spare the interests and to avoid hurting the susceptibil- 
ities of the aristocrats. But, as Cicero said, the very name 
of an Agrarian law was intolerable to them. It meant in 
the end spoliation and division of property, and the first 
step would bring others after it. The public lands they 
had shared conveniently among themselves from imme- 
morial time. The public treasure was their treasure, to 
be laid out as they might think proper. Cato headed the 
opposition. He stormed for an entire day, and was so 
violent that Caesar threatened him with arrest. The Sen- 
ate groaned and foamed; no progress was made or was 
likely to be made; and Caesar, as much in earnest as they 
were, had to tell them that if they would not help him, he 
must appeal to the assembly. " I invited you to revise the 
law," he said; " I was willing that if any clause displeased 
you it should be expunged. You will not touch it. 
Well then, the people must decide.'' 

The Senate had made up their minds to fight the battle. 
If Caesar went to the assembly, Bibulus, their second con- 
sul, might stop proceedings. If this seemed too extreme 
a step, custom provided other impediments to which re- 
course might be had. Bibulus might survey the heavens, 
watch the birds, or the clouds, or the direction of the wind, 
and declare the aspects unfavourable; or he might pro- 

158 JULIUS C^SAR [b.c. 59 

claim day after day to be holy, and on holy days no legisla- 
tion was permitted. Should these religious cobwebs be 
brushed away, the Senate had provided a further resource 
in three of the tribunes whom they had bribed. Thus 
they held themselves secure, and dared Caesar to do his 
worst. Csesar on his side was equally determined. The 
assembly was convoked. The Forum was choked to over- 
flowing. Csesar and Pompey stood on the steps of the 
Temple of Castor, and Bibulus and his tribunes were at 
hand ready with their interpellations. Such passions had 
not been roused in Rome since the days of Cinna and Oc- 
tavius, and many a young lord was doubtless hoping that 
the day would not close without another lesson to ambi- 
tious demagogues and howling mobs. In their eyes the 
one reform which Rome needed was another Sylla. 

Caesar read his law from the tablet on which it was in- 
scribed; and, still courteous to his antagonist, he turned to 
Bibulus and asked him if he had any fault to find. Bibulus 
said sullenly that he wanted no revolutions, and that while 
he was consul there should be none. The people hissed; 
and he then added in a rage, " You shall not have your 
law this year though every man of you demand it." 
Csesar answered nothing, but Pompey and Crassus stood 
forward. They were not officials, but they were real 
forces. Pompey was the idol of every soldier in the State, 
and at Caesar's invitation he addressed the assembly. He 
spoke for his veterans. He spoke for the poor citizens. 
He said that he approved the law to the last letter of it. 

" Will you then," asked Csesar, " support the law if it 
be illegally opposed? " " Since," replied Pompey, " you 
consul, and you my fellow citizens, ask aid of me, a poor 
individual without office and without authority, who never- 
theless has done some service to the State, I say that I 
will bear the shield, if others draw the sword." Applause 
rang out from a hundred thousand throats. Crassus fol- 
lowed to the same purpose, and was received with the 
same wild delight. A few senators, who retained their 
senses, saw the uselessness of the opposition, and retired. 

b. c. 59] SCENE IN THE FORUM 1 59 

Bibulus was of duller and tougher metal. As the vote was 
about to be taken, he and his tribunes rushed to the ros- 
tra. The tribunes pronounced their veto. Bibulus said 
that he had consulted the sky; the gods forbade further 
action being taken that day, and he declared the assembly 
dissolved. Nay, as if a man like Caesar could be stopped 
by a shadow, he proposed to sanctify the whole remainder 
of the year, that no further business might be transacted 
in it. Yells drowned his voice. The mob rushed upon 
the steps; Bibulus was thrown down, and the rods of the 
lictors were broken; the tribunes who had betrayed their 
order were beaten. Cato held his ground, and stormed 
at Caesar, till he was led off by the police, raving and ges- 
ticulating. The law was then passed, and a resolution be- 
sides, that every senator should take an oath to obey it. 

So in ignominy the Senate's resistance collapsed: the 
Caesar whom they had thought to put off with their 
" woods and forests," had proved stronger than the whole 
of them; and, prostrate at the first round of the battle, 
they did not attempt another. They met the following 
morning. Bibulus told his story, and appealed for sup- 
port. Had the Senate complied, they would probably 
have ceased to exist. The oath was unpalatable, but they 
made the best of it. Metellus Celer, Cato, and Favonius, 
a senator whom men called Cato's ape, struggled against 
their fate, but " swearing they would ne'er consent, con- 
sented." The unwelcome formula was swallowed by the 
whole of them; and Bibulus, who had done his part and had 
been beaten and kicked and trampled upon, and now found 
his employers afraid to stand by him, went off sulkily to 
his house, shut himself up there, and refused to act as con- 
sul further during the remainder of the year. 

There was no further active opposition. A commission 
was appointed by Caesar to carry out the Land act, com- 
posed of twenty of the best men that could be found, one 
of them being Atius Balbus, the husband of Caesar's only 
sister, and grandfather of a little child now three years 
old, who was known afterwards to the world as Augustus. 

l6o JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 59 

Cicero was offered a place, but declined. The land ques- 
tion having been disposed of, Caesar then proceeded with 
the remaining measures by which his consulship was im- 
mortalized. He had redeemed his promise to Pompey by 
providing for his soldiers. He gratified Crassus by giving 
the desired relief to the farmers of the taxes. He con- 
firmed Pompey's arrangements for the government of 
Asia, which the Senate had left in suspense. The Senate 
was now itself suspended. The consul acted directly with 
the assembly, without obstruction, and without remon- 
strance, Bibulus only from time to time sending out mo- 
notonous admonitions from within doors that the sea- 
son was consecrated, and that Caesar's acts had no validity. 
Still more remarkably, and as the distinguishing feature 
of his term of office, Caesar carried, with the help of the 
people, the body of admirable laws which are known to 
jurists as the " Leges Juliae," and mark an epoch in Roman 
history. They were laws as unwelcome to the aristocracy 
as they were essential to the continued existence of the 
Roman State, laws which had been talked of in the Senate, 
but which could never pass through the preliminary stage 
of resolutions, and were now enacted over the Senate's 
head by the will of Caesar and the sovereign power of the 
nation. A mere outline can alone be attempted here. 
There was a law declaring the inviolability of the persons 
of magistrates during their term of authority, reflecting 
back on the murder of Saturninus, and touching by impli- 
cation the killing of Lentulus and his companions. There 
was a law for the punishment of adultery, most disinter- 
estedly singular if the popular accounts of Caesar's habits 
had any grain of truth in them. There were laws for the 
protection of the subject from violence, public or private; 
and laws disabling persons who had laid hands illegally on 
Roman citizens from holding office in the Commonwealth. 
There was a law, intended at last to be effective, to deal 
with judges who allowed themselves to be bribed. There 
were laws against defrauders of the revenue; laws against 
debasing the coin; laws against sacrilege; laws against cor- 

B. c. 59] THE " LEGES JULLE " l6l 

rupt State contracts; laws against bribery at elections. 
Finally, there was a law, carefully framed, De repetundis, 
to exact retribution from proconsuls, or propraetors of 
the type of Verres who had plundered the provinces. All 
governors were required, on relinquishing office, to make 
a double return of their accounts, one to remain for in- 
spection among the archives of the province, and one to 
be sent to Rome; and where peculation or injustice could 
be proved the offender's estate was made answerable to 
the last sesterce. 1 

Such laws were words only without the will to execute 
them; but they affirmed the principles on which Roman 
or any other society could alone continue. It was for the 
officials of the constitution to adopt them, and save them- 
selves and the Republic, or to ignore them as they had ig- 
nored the laws which already existed, and see it perish as 
it deserved. All that man could do for the preservation 
of his country from revolution Caesar had accomplished. 
Sylla had re-established the rule of the aristocracy, and it 
had failed grossly and disgracefully. Cinna and Marius 
had tried democracy, and that had failed. Caesar was try- 
ing what law would do, and the result remained to be seen. 
Bibulus, as each measure was passed, croaked that it was 
null and void. The leaders of the Senate threatened be- 
tween their teeth that all should be undone when Caesar's 
term was over. Cato, when he mentioned the " Leges 
Juliae," spoke of them as enactments, but refused them 
their author's name. But the excellence of these laws was 
so clearly recognised that they survived the irregularity 
of their introduction; and the " Lex de Repetundis" es- 
pecially remained a terror to evil-doers, with a promise of 
better days to the miserable and pillaged subjects of the 
Roman Empire. 

So the year of Caesar's consulship passed away. What 
was to happen when it had expired? The Senate had 
provided " the woods and forests " for him. But the Sen- 
ate's provision in such a matter could not be expected to 
hold. He asked for nothing, but he was known to desire 

l62 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 59 

an opportunity of distinguished service. Caesar was now 
forty-three. His life was ebbing away, and, with the ex- 
ception of his two years in Spain, it had been spent in strug- 
gling with the base elements of Roman faction. Great 
men will bear such sordid work when it is laid on them, 
but they loathe it notwithstanding, and for the present 
there was nothing more to be done. A new point of de- 
parture had been taken. Principles had been laid down 
for the Senate and people to act on, if they could and 
would. Caesar could only wish for a long absence in some 
new sphere of usefulness, where he could achieve some- 
thing really great which his country would remember. 

And on one side only was such a sphere open to him. 
The East was Roman to the Euphrates. No second Mith- 
ridates could loosen the grasp with which the legions now 
held the civilized parts of Asia. Parthians might disturb 
the frontier, but could not seriously threaten the Eastern 
dominions; and no advantage was promised by following 
on the steps of Alexander, and annexing countries too 
poor to bear the cost of their maintenance. To the west 
it was different. Beyond the Alps there was still a territory 
of unknown extent, stretching away to the undefined 
ocean, a territory peopled with warlike races, some of 
whom in ages long past had swept over Italy and taken 
Rome, and had left their descendants and their name in 
the northern province, which was now called Cisalpine 
Gaul. With these races the Romans had as yet no clear 
relations, and from them alone could any serious danger 
threaten the State. The Gauls had for some centuries 
ceased their wanderings, had settled down in fixed local- 
ities. They had built towns and bridges; they had culti- 
vated the soil, and had become wealthy and partly civilized. 
With the tribes adjoining Provence the Romans had alli- 
ances more or less precarious, and had established a kind 
of protectorate over them. But even here the inhabitants 
were uneasy for their independence, and troubles were con- 
tinually arising with them; while into these districts and 
into the rest of Gaul a fresh and stormy element was now 

b. c. 59] CONDITION OF GAUL 163 

being introduced. In earlier times the Gauls had been 
stronger than the Germans, and not only could they pro- 
tect their own frontier, but they had formed settlements 
beyond the Rhine. These relations were being changed. 
The Gauls, as they grew in wealth, declined in vigour. The 
Germans, still roving and migratory, were throwing cov- 
etous eyes out of their forests on the fields and vineyards 
of their neighbours, and enormous numbers of them were 
crossing the Rhine and Danube, looking for new homes. 
How feeble a barrier either the Alps, or the Gauls them- 
selves, might prove against such invaders, had been but 
too recently experienced. Men who were of middle age 
at the time of Caesar's consulship, could still remember the 
terrors which had been caused by the invasion of the 
Cimbri and Teutons. Marius had saved Italy then from 
destruction, as it were, by the hair of his head. The an- 
nihilation of those hordes had given Rome a passing re- 
spite. But fresh generations had grown up. Fresh 
multitudes were streaming out of the North. Germans in 
hundreds of thousands were again passing the Upper 
Rhine, rooting themselves in Burgundy, and coming in 
collision with tribes which Rome protected. There were 
uneasy movements among the Gauls themselves, whole 
nations of them breaking up from their homes and again 
adrift upon the world. Gaul and Germany were like a 
volcano giving signs of approaching eruption; and, at any 
moment and hardly with warning, another lava stream 
might be pouring down into Venetia and Lombardy. 

To deal with this danger was the work marked out for 
Caesar. It is the fashion to say that he sought a military 
command that he might have an army behind him to over- 
throw the constitution. If this was his object, ambition 
never chose a more dangerous or less promising route for 
himself. Men of genius who accomplish great things in 
this world do not trouble themselves with remote and 
visionary aims. They encounter emergencies as they rise, 
and leave the future to shape itself as it may. It would 
seem that at first the defence of Italy was all that was 

164 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 58 

thought of. " The woods and forests " were set aside, and 
Caesar, by a vote of the people, was given the command of 
Cisalpine Gaul and Illyria for five years; but either he him- 
self desired, or especial circumstances which were taking 
place beyond the mountains recommended, that a wider 
scope should be allowed him. The Senate, finding that 
the people would act without them if they hesitated, gave 
him in addition Gallia Comata, the land of the Gauls with 
the long hair, the governorship of the Roman provinces 
beyond the Alps, with untrammelled liberty to act as he 
might think good, throughout the country which is now 
known as France and Switzerland and the Rhine provinces 
of Germany. 

He was to start early in the approaching year. It was 
necessary before he went to make some provision for the 
quiet government of the capital. The alliance with Pom- 
pey and Crassus gave temporary security. Pompey had 
less stability of character than could have been wished, 
but he became attached to Caesar's daughter Julia; and a 
fresh link of marriage was formed to hold them together. 
Caesar himself married Calpurnia, the daughter of Calpur- 
nius Piso. The Senate having temporarily abdicated, he 
was able to guide the elections; and Piso, and Pompey's 
friend Gabinius, who had obtained the command of the 
pirate war for him, were chosen consuls for the year 58. 
Neither of them, if we can believe a tithe of Cicero's invec- 
tive, was good for much; but they were staunch partisans 
and were to be relied on to resist any efforts which might 
be made to repeal the " Leges Juliae." These matters 
being arranged, and his own term having expired, Caesar 
withdrew, according to custom, to the suburbs beyond the 
walls to collect troops and prepare for his departure. 
Strange things, however, had yet to happen before he was 

It is easy to conceive how the Senate felt at these trans- 
actions, how ill they bore to find themselves superseded, 
and the State managed over their heads. Fashionable 
society was equally furious, and the three allies went by 


the name of Dynasts, or " Reges Superbi." After resist- 
ance had been abandoned, Cicero came back to Rome to 
make cynical remarks from which all parties suffered 
equally. His special grievance was the want of considera- 
tion which he conceived to have been shown for himself. 
He mocked at the Senate; he mocked at Bibulus, whom 
he particularly abominated; he mocked at Pompey and the 
Agrarian law. Mockery turned to indignation when he 
thought of the ingratitude of the Senate, and his chief con- 
solation in their discomfiture was that it had fallen on them 
through the neglect of their most distinguished member. 
" I could have saved them, if they would have let me," he 
said. " I could save them still, if I were to try; but I will 
go study philosophy in my own family." 2 " Freedom is 
gone," he wrote to Atticus; " and if we are to be worse 
enslaved, we shall bear it. Our lives and properties are 
more to us than liberty. We sigh, and we do not even 
remonstrate." 3 

Cato, in the desperation of passion, called Pompey a Dic- 
tator in the assembly, and barely escaped being killed for 
his pains. 4 The patricians revenged themselves in private 
by savage speeches and plots and purposes. Fashionable 
society gathered in the theatres, and hissed the popular 
leaders. Lines were introduced into the plays reflecting 
on Pompey, and were encored a thousand times. Bibulus 
from his closet continued to issue venomous placards, re- 
porting scandals about Caesar's life, and now for the first 
time bringing up the story of Nicomedes. The streets 
were impassable where these papers were pasted up, from 
the crowds of loungers which were gathered to read them, 
and Bibulus for the moment was the hero of patrician 
saloons. Some malicious comfort Cicero gathered out of 
these manifestations of feeling. He had no belief in the 
noble lords, and small expectations from them. Bibulus 
was, on the whole, a fit representative for the gentry of the 
fish-ponds. But the Dynasts were at least heartily de- 
tested in quarters which had once been powerful, and 
might be powerful again; and he flattered himself, though 

l66 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 58 

he affected to regret it, that the animosity against them 
was spreading. To all parties there is attached a draggled 
trail of disreputables, who hold themselves entitled to bene- 
fits when their side is in power, and are angry when they 
are passed over. 

" The State," Cicero wrote in the autumn of 59 to At- 
ticus, " is in a worse condition than when you left us; then 
we thought that we had fallen under a power which 
pleased the people, and which, though abhorrent to the 
good, yet was not totally destructive to them. Now all 
hate it equally, and we are in terror as to where the 
exasperation may break out. We had experienced 
the ill-temper and irritation of those who in their 
anger with Cato had brought ruin on us; but the 
poison worked so slowly that it seemed we might die 
without pain. — I hoped, as I often told you, that the 
wheel of the constitution was so turning that we 
should scarcely hear a sound or see any visible track; and 
so it would have been, could men have waited for the 
tempest to pass over them. But the secret sighs turned 
to groans, and the groans to universal clamour; and 
thus our friend Pompey, who so lately swam in glory, and 
never heard an evil word of himself, is broken-hearted, 
and knows not whither to turn. A precipice is before him, 
and to retreat is dangerous. The good are against him — 
the bad are not his friends. I could scarce help weeping 
the other day when I heard him complaining in the Forum 
of the publications of Bibulus. He who but a short time 
since bore himself so proudly there, with the people in 
raptures with him, and with the world on his side, was now 
so humble and abject as to disgust even himself, not to say 
his hearers. Crassus enjoyed the scene, but no one else. 
Pompey had fallen down out of the stars — not by a grad- 
ual descent, but in a single plunge; and as Apelles if he had 
seen his Venus, or Protogenes his Ialysus, all daubed with 
mud, would have been vexed and annoyed, so was I 
grieved to the very heart to see one whom I had painted 
out in the choicest colours of art thus suddenly defaced. 5 

b. c. 58] ROMAN FACTIONS 1 67 

— Pompey is sick with irritation at the placards of Bibu- 
lus. I am sorry about them. They give such excessive 
annoyance to a man whom I have always liked; and Pom- 
pey is so prompt with his sword, and so unaccustomed to 
insult, that I fear what he may do. What the future may 
have in store for Bibulus I know not. At present he is the 
admired of all." 6 

" Sampsiceramus," Cicero wrote a few days later, " is 
greatly penitent. He would gladly be restored to the emi- 
nence from which he has fallen. Sometimes he imparts 
his griefs to me, and asks me what he should do, which I 
cannot tell him." 7 

Unfortunate Cicero, who knew what was right, but was 
too proud to do it! Unfortunate Pompey, who still did 
what was right, but was too sensitive to bear the reproach 
of it, who would so gladly not leave his duty unperformed, 
and yet keep the " sweet voices ' : whose applause had 
grcvvn so delicious to him! Bibulus was in no danger. 
Pompey was too good-natured to hurt him; and Caesar let 
fools say what they pleased, as long as they were fools 
without teeth, who would bark but could not bite. The 
risk was to Cicero himself, little as he seemed to be aware 
of it. Caesar was to be long absent from Rome, and he 
knew that as soon as he was engaged in Gaul the extreme 
oligarchic faction would make an effort to set aside his 
Land commission and undo his legislation. When he had 
a clear purpose in view, and was satisfied that it was a good 
purpose, he was never scrupulous about his instruments. 
It was said of him that, when he wanted any work done, 
he chose the persons best able to do it, let their general 
character be what it might. The rank and file of the pa- 
tricians, proud, idle, vicious, and self-indulgent, might be 
left to their mistresses and their gaming tables. They 
could do no mischief, unless they had leaders at their head, 
who could use their resources more effectively than they 
could do themselves. There were two men only in Rome 
with whose help they could be really dangerous — Cato, 
because he was a fanatic, impregnable to argument, and 

l68 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 58 

not to be influenced by temptation of advantage to himself; 
Cicero, on account of his extreme ability, his personal am- 
bition, and his total want of political principle. Cato he 
knew to be impracticable. Cicero he had tried to gain; 
but Cicero, who had played a first part as consul, could 
not bring himself to play a second, and, if the chance 
offered, had both power and will to be troublesome. 
Some means had to be found to get rid of these two, or at 
least to tie their hands and so keep them in order. There 
would be Pompey and Crassus still at hand. But Pom- 
pey was weak, and Crassus understood nothing beyond 
the art of manipulating money. Gabinius and Piso, the 
next consuls, had an indifferent reputation and narrow 
abilities, and at best they would have but their one year of 
authority. Politics, like love, make strange bedfellows. 
In this difficulty accident threw in Caesar's way a conven- 
ient but most unexpected ally. 

Young Clodius, after his escape from prosecution by 
the marvellous methods which Crassus had provided for 
him, was more popular than ever. He had been the oc- 
casion of a scandal which had brought infamy on the de- 
tested Senate. His offence in itself seemed slight in so 
loose an age and was as nothing compared with the enor- 
mity of his judges. He had come out of his trial with a 
determination to be revenged on the persons from whose 
tongues he had suffered most severely in the senatorial de- 
bates. Of these Cato had been the most savage; but 
Cicero had been the most exasperating, from his sarcasms, 
his airs of patronage, and perhaps his intimacy with his 
sister. The noble youth had exhausted the common forms 
of pleasure. He wanted a new excitement, and politics 
and vengeance might be combined. He was as clever as 
he was dissolute, and, as clever men are fortunately rare in 
the licentious part of society, they are always idolized, be- 
cause they make vice respectable by connecting it with in- 
tellect. Clodius was a second, an abler Catiline, equally 
unprincipled and far more dexterous and prudent. In 
times of revolution there is always a disreputable wing to 

b. c. 58] CLODIUS 169 

the radical party, composed of men who are the natural 
enemies of established authority, and these all rallied about 
their new leader with devout enthusiasm. Clodius was 
not without political experience. His first public appear- 
ance had been made as leader of a mutiny. He was 
already quaestor, and so a Senator; but he was too young 
to aspire to the higher magistracies which were open to 
him as a patrician. He declared his intention of renounc- 
ing his order, becoming a plebeian, and standing for the 
tribuneship of the people. There were precedents for 
such a step, but they were rare. The abdicating noble had 
to be adopted into a plebeian family, and the consent was 
required of the consuls and of the Pontifical College. 
With the growth of political equality the aristocracy had 
become more insistent upon the privilege of birth, which 
could not be taken from them; and for a Claudius to de- 
scend among the canaille was as if a Howard were to seek 
adoption from a shopkeeper in the Strand. 

At first there was universal amazement. Cicero had 
used the intrigue with Pompeia as a text for a sermon on 
the immoralities of the age. The aspirations of Clodius 
to be a tribune he ridiculed as an illustration of its follies, 
and after scourging him in the Senate, he laughed at him 
and jested with him in private. 8 Cicero did not under- 
stand with how venomous a snake he was playing. He 
even thought Clodius likely to turn against the Dynasts, 
and to become a serviceable member of the conservative 
party. Gradually he was forced to open his eyes. 
Speeches were reported to him as coming from Clodius or 
his allies threatening an inquiry into the death of the Cati- 
linarians. At first he pushed his alarms aside, as unworthy 
of him. What had so great a man as he to fear from a 
young reprobate like " the pretty boy" ? The " pretty 
boy/' however, found favour where it was least looked for. 
Caesar, though it was Caesar's house which he had violated, 
did not oppose. Bibulus refused consent, but Bibulus 
had virtually abdicated and went for nothing. The legal 
forms were complied with. Clodius found a commoner 

170 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 58 

younger than himself who was willing to adopt him, and 
who, the day after the ceremony, released him from the 
new paternal authority. He was now a plebeian, and free. 
He remained a senator in virtue of his quaestorship, and he 
was chosen tribune of the people for the year 58. 

Cicero was at last startled out of his security. So long 
as the consuls, or one of them, could be depended on, a 
tribune's power was insignificant. When the consuls were 
of his own way of thinking, a tribune was a very impor- 
tant personage indeed. Atticus was alarmed for his 
friend, and cautioned him to look to himself. Warnings 
came from all quarters that mischief was in the wind. Still 
it was impossible to believe the peril to be a real one. Cic- 
ero, to whom Rome owed its existence, to be struck at 
by a Clodius! It could not be. As little could a wasp 
hurt an elephant. 

There can be little doubt that Caesar knew what Clodius 
had in his mind; or that, if the design was not his own, he 
had purposely allowed it to go forward. Caesar did not 
wish to hurt Cicero. He wished well to him, and admired 
him; but he did not mean to leave him free in Rome to 
lead a senatorial reaction. A prosecution for the execu- 
tion of the prisoners was now distinctly announced. Cic- 
ero as consul had put to death Roman citizens without a 
trial. Cicero was to be called to answer for the illegality 
before the sovereign people. The danger was unmistak- 
able; and Caesar, who was still in the suburbs making his 
preparations, invited Cicero to avoid it, by accompanying 
him as second in command into Gaul. The offer was 
made in unquestionable sincerity. Caesar may himself 
have created the situation to lay Cicero under a pressure, 
but he desired nothing so much as to take him as his com- 
panion, and to attach him to himself. Cicero felt the com- 
pliment and hesitated to refuse, but his pride again came in 
his way. Pompey assured him that not a hair of his head 
should be touched. Why Pompey gave him this encour- 
agement, Cicero could never afterwards understand. The 
scenes in the theatres had also combined to mislead him, 


and he misread the disposition of the great body of citi- 
zens. He imagined that they would all start up in his 
defence, Senate, aristocracy, knights, commoners, and 
tradesmen. The world, he thought, looked back upon his 
consulship with as much admiration as he did himself, and 
was always contrasting him with his successors. Never 
was mistake more profound. The Senate, who had envied 
his talents and resented his assumption, now despised him 
as a trimmer. His sarcasms had made him enemies among 
those who acted with him politically. He had held aloof 
at the crisis of Caesar's election and in the debates which 
followed, and therefore all sides distrusted him; while 
throughout the body of the people there was, as Caesar had 
foretold, a real and sustained resentment at the conduct of 
the Catiline affair. The final opinion of Rome was that 
the prisoner: ought to have been tried; and that they were 
not tried was attributed not unnaturally to a desire, on the 
part of the Senate, to silence an inquiry which might have 
proved inconvenient. 

Thus suddenly out of a clear sky the thunder-clouds 
gathered over Cicero's head. " Clodius," says Dion 
Cassius, " had discovered that among the senators Cicero 
was more feared than loved. There were few of them who 
had not been hit by his irony, or irritated by his presump- 
tion." Those who most agreed in what he had done were 
not ashamed to shuffle off upon him their responsibilities. 
Clodius, now omnipotent with the assembly at his back, 
cleared the way by a really useful step; he carried a law 
abolishing the impious form of declaring tne heavens un- 
favourable when an inconvenient measure was to be stopped 
or delayed. Probably it formed a part of his engagement 
with Caesar. The law may have been meant to act retro- 
spectively, to prevent a question being raised on the inter- 
pellations of Bibulus. This done, and without paying the 
Senate the respect of first consulting it, he gave notice that 
he would propose a vote to the assembly, to the effect that 
any person who had put to death a Roman citizen without 
trial, and without allowing him an appeal to the people, 

172 JULIUS C^SAR [b c. 58 

had violated the constitution of the State. Cicero was 
not named directly; every senator who had voted for 
the execution of Cethegus and Lentulus and their compan- 
ions was as guilty as he; but it was known immediately 
that Cicero was the mark that was being aimed at; and 
Caesar at once renewed the offer, which he made before, to 
take Cicero with him. Cicero, now frightened in earnest, 
still could not bring himself to owe his escape to Caesar. 
The Senate, ungrateful as they had been, put on mourning 
with an affectation of dismay. The knights petitioned 
the consuls to interfere for Cicero's protection. The con- 
suls declined to receive their request. Caesar outside the 
city gave no further sign. A meeting of the citizens was 
held in the camp. Caesar's opinion was invited. He said 
that he had not changed his sentiments. He had remon- 
strated at the time against the execution. He disapproved 
of it still, but he did not directly advise legislation upon 
acts that were passed. Yet though he did not encourage 
Clodius, he did not interfere. He left the matter to the 
consuls, and one of them was his own father-in-law, and 
the other was Gabinus, once Pompey's favourite officer. 
Gabinius, Cicero thought, would respect Pompey's promise 
to him. To Piso he made a personal appeal. He found 
him, he said afterwards, 9 at eleven in the morning, in his 
slippers, at a low tavern. Piso came out, reeking with 
wine, and excused himself by saying that his health re- 
quired a morning draught. Cicero attempted to receive 
his apology; and he stood for a while at the tavern door, 
till he could no longer bear the smell and the foul language 
and expectorations of the consul. Hope in that quarter 
there was none. Two days later the assembly was called 
to consider Clodius's proposal. Piso was asked to say 
what he thought of the treatment of the conspirators; he 
answered gravely, and, as Cicero described him, with one 
eye in his forehead, that he disapproved of cruelty. 
Neither Pompey nor his friends came to help. What was 
Cicero to do? Resist by force? The young knights 
rallied about him eager for a fight, if he would but give 


the word. Sometimes as he looked back in after years he 
blamed himself for declining their services, sometimes he 
took credit to himself for refusing to be the occasion of 
bloodshed. 10 

" I was too timid," he said once; " I had the country 
with me, and I should have stood firm. I had to do with 
a band of villains only, with two monsters of consuls, and 
with the male harlot of rich buffoons, the seducer of his 
sister, and the high priest of adultery, a poisoner, a forger, 
an assassin, a thief. The best and bravest citizens im- 
plored me to stand up to him. But I reflected that this 
Fury asserted that he was supported by Pompey and 
Crassus and Caesar. Caesar had an army at the gates. 
The other two could raise another army when they pleased; 
and when they knew that their names were thus made use 
of, they remained silent. They were alarmed perhaps, 
because the laws which they had carried in the preceding 
year were challenged by the new praetors, and were held 
by the Senate to be invalid; and they were unwilling to 
alienate a popular tribune. " 1X 

And again elsewhere: "When I saw that the faction of 
Catiline was in power, that the party which I had led, 
some from envy of myself, some from fear for their own 
lives, had betrayed and deserted me; when the two consuls 
had been purchased by promises of provinces, and had 
gone over to my enemies, and the condition of the bargain 
was, that I was to be delivered over, tied and bound, to 
my enemies; when the Senate and knights were in mourn- 
ing, but were not allowed to bring my cause before the peo- 
ple; when my blood had been made the seal of the arrange- 
ment under which the State had been disposed of; when I 
saw all this, although ' the good ' were ready to fight for 
me, and were willing to die for me, I would not consent, 
because I saw that victory or defeat would alike bring 
ruin to the Commonwealth. The Senate was powerless. 
The Forum was ruled by violence. In such a city there 
was no place for me." 12 

So Cicero, as he looked back afterwards, described the 

174 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 58 

struggle in his own mind. His friends had then rallied; 
Caesar was far away; and he could tell his own story, and 
could pile his invectives on those who had injured him. 
His matchless literary power has given him exclusive com- 
mand over the history of his time. His enemies' charac- 
ters have been accepted from his pen as correct portraits. 
If we allow his description of Clodius and the two consuls 
to be true to the facts, what harder condemnation can be 
pronounced against a political condition in which such 
men as those could be raised to the first position in the 
State? 13 Dion says that Cicero's resolution to yield did 
not wholly proceed from his own prudence, but was as- 
sisted by advice from Cato and Hortensius the orator. 
Anyway, the blow fell, and he went down before the stroke. 
His immortal consulship, in praise of which he had written 
a poem, brought after it the swift retribution which Caesar 
had foretold. When the vote proposed by Clodius was 
carried, he fled to Sicily, with a tacit confession that he 
dared not abide his trial, which would immediately have 
followed. Sentence was pronounced upon him in his ab- 
sence. His property was confiscated. His houses in 
town and country were razed. The site of his palace in 
Rome was dedicated to the Goddess of Liberty, and he 
himself was exiled. He was forbidden to reside within 
four hundred miles of Rome, with a threat of death if he 
returned; and he retired to Macedonia, to pour out his sor- 
rows and his resentments in lamentations unworthy of a 


1 Page 161. See a list of the " Leges Julise " in the 48th Book of the 
Corpus Juris Civilis. 

2 Page 165. To Atticus, ii. 16. 

3 Page 165. " Tenemur undique, neque jam, quo minus serviamus, 
recusamus, sed mortem et ejectionem quasi majora timemus quaemulto 
sunt minora. Atque hie status, qui una voce omnium gemitur neque 
verbo cujusdam sublevatur." — To Atticus, ii. 18. 

4 Page 165. "In concionemascendit et Pompeium privatus Dictatorem 


appellavit, Propius nihil est factum quam ut occideretur." — Cicero, Ad 
Quintum Fratrem, i. 2. 

5 Page 166. To Atticus, ii. 21. In this comparison Cicero betrays his 
naive conviction that Pompey was indebted to him and to his praises 
for his reputation. Here, as always, Cicero was himself the centre 
round which all else revolved or ought to revolve. 

6 Page 167. To Atticus, ii. 21. 

7 Page 167. To Atticus, ii. 22. 

8 Page 169. " Jam familiariter cum illo etiam cavillor ac jocor." — To 
Atticus, ii. 1. 

9 Page 172. Oratio in L. Pisonem. 

10 Page 173. He seems to have even thought of suicide. — To Atticus, 
iii. 9. 

11 Page 173. Abridged from the Oratio pro P. Sextio. 

12 Page 173. Oratio post reditum ad Quirites. 

13 Page 174. In a letter to his brother Quintus, written at a time when 
he did not know the real feelings of Caesar and Pompey, and had sup- 
posed that he hp^ only to deal with Clodius, Cicero announced a dis- 
tinct intention of resisting by force. He expected that the whole of 
Italy would be at his side. He said: "Si diem nobis Clodius dixerit, 
tota Italia concurret, ut multiplicata gloria discedamus. Sin autem 
vi agere conabitur, spero fore, studiis non solum amicorum, sed etiam 
alienorum, ut vi resistamus. Omnes et se et suos liberos, amicos, 
clientes, libertos, servos, pecunias denique suas pollicentur. Nostra 
antiqua manus bonorum ardet studio nostri atque amore. Si qui antea 
aut alieniores fuerant, aut languidiores, nunc horum regum odio se 
cum bonis conjungunt. Pompeius omnia pollicetur et Caesar, de quibus 
ita credo, ut nihil de mea comparatione deminuam." — Ad Quintum 
Fratrem, i. 2. 


FROM the fermentation of Roman politics, the pas- 
sions of the Forum and Senate, the corrupt tribu- 
nals, the poisoned centre of the Empire, the story 
passes beyond the frontier of Italy. We no longer depend 
for our account of Caesar on the caricatures of rival states- 
men. He now becomes himself our guide. We see him 
in his actions and in the picture of his personal character 
which he has unconsciously drawn. Like all real great 
men, he rarely speaks of himself. He tells us little or 
nothing of his own feelings or his own purposes. Cicero 
never forgets his individuality. In every line that he 
wrote Cicero was attitudinizing for posterity, or reflecting 
on the effect of his conduct upon his interests or his repu- 
tation. Caesar is lost in his work; his personality is scarcely 
more visible than Shakespeare's. He was now forty- 
three years old. His abstemious habits had left his health 
unshaken. He was in the fullest vigour of mind and body, 
and it was well for him that his strength had not been 
undermined. He was going on an expedition which would 
make extraordinary demands upon his energies. That he 
had not contemplated operations so extended as those 
which were forced upon him is evident from the nature of 
his preparations. His command in Further Gaul had 
been an afterthought, occasioned probably by the news 
which had been received of movements in progress there 
during his consulship. Of the four legions which were 
allowed to him, one only was beyond the Alps; three were 
at Aquileia. It was late in life for him to begin the trade 
of a soldier; and as yet, with the exception of his early 
service in Asia, and a brief and limited campaign in Spain 
when propraetor, he had no military experience at all. 
His ambition hitherto had not pointed in that direction; 
nor is it likely that a person of so strong an understanding 


B. c. 58] ANCIENT GAUL 1 77 

would have contemplated beforehand the deliberate under- 
taking of the gigantic war into which circumstances im- 
mediately forced him. Yet he must have known that he 
had to deal with a problem of growing difficulty. The 
danger to Italy from inroads across the Alps was perpetu- 
ally before the minds of thoughtful Roman statesmen. 
Events were at that moment taking place among the Gallic 
tribes which gave point to the general uneasiness. And, 
unwilling as the Romans were to extend their frontiers and 
their responsibilities in a direction so unknown and so un- 
promising, yet some interference either by arms or by 
authority beyond those existing limits was being pressed 
upon them in self-defence. 

The Transalpine Gaul of Caesar was the country in- 
cluded between the Rhine, the ocean, the Pyrenees, the 
Mediterranean, and the Alps. Within these limits, in- 
cluding Switzerland, there was at this time a population 
vaguely estimated at six or seven millions. The Roman 
Province stretched along the coast to the Spanish border; 
it was bounded on the north by the Cevennes Mountains, 
and for some generations by the Isere; but it had been 
found necessary lately 1 to annex the territory of the Allo- 
broges (Dauphine and Savoy), and the proconsular author- 
ity was now extended to within a few miles of Geneva. 
The rest was divided into three sections, inhabited by 
races which, if allied, were distinctly different in language, 
laws, and institutions. The Aquitani, who were connected 
with the Spaniards or perhaps the Basques, held the 
country between the Pyrenees and the Garonne. The 
Belgae, whom Caesar believed to have been originally Ger- 
mans, extended from the mouth of the Seine to the mouth 
of the Rhine, and inland to the Marne and Moselle. The 
people whom the Romans meant especially when they 
spoke of Gauls occupied all the remainder. At one time 
the Celts had probably been masters of the whole of 
France, but had gradually yielded to encroachment. Ac- 
cording to the Druids, they came out of darkness, ab Dite 

Patre; they called themselves Children of Night, counting 

178 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 58 

time by nights, instead of days, as we say fortnight and 
se'nnight. Comparison of language has taught us that 
they were a branch of the great Aryan race, one of the 
first which rolled westward into Europe, before Greeks or 
Latins had been heard of. 

This once magnificent people was now in a state of 
change and decomposition. On Aquitaine and Belgium 
Roman civilization had as yet produced no effect. The 
severe habits of earlier generations remained unchanged. 
The Gauls proper had yielded to contact with the Province 
and to intercourse with Italian traders. They had built 
towns and villages. They had covered the land with farms 
and homesteads. They had made roads. They had 
bridged their rivers, even such rivers as the Rhone and the 
Loire. They had amassed wealth, and had adopted habits 
of comparative luxury, which, if it had not abated their dis- 
position to fight, had diminished their capacity for fighting. 
Their political and perhaps their spiritual system was pass- 
ing through analogous transformations. The ancient 
forms remained, but an altered spirit was working under 
them. From the earliest antiquity they had been divided 
into tribes and subtribes: each tribe and subtribe being 
practically independent, or united only by common ob- 
jects and a common sentiment of race. The rule was the 
rule of the strong, under the rudest forms of tribal organi- 
zation. The chief was either hereditary or elected, or won 
his command by his sword. The mass of the people were 
serfs. The best fighters were self-made nobles, under the 
chief's authority. Every man in the tribe was the chiefs 
absolute subject; the chief, in turn, was bound to protect 
the meanest of them against injury from without. War, 
on a large scale or a small, had been the occupation of their 
lives. The son was not admitted into his father's presence 
till he was old enough to be a soldier. When the call to 
arms went out, every man of the required age was expected 
at the muster, and the last comer was tortured to death in 
the presence of his comrades as a lesson against backward- 

B. c. 58] THE DRUIDS 1 79 

As the secular side of things bore a rude resemblance 
to feudalism, so on the religious there was a similar antici- 
pation of the mediaeval Catholic Church. The Druids 
were not a special family, like the Levites, or in any way 
born into the priesthood. They were an order composed 
of persons selected, when young, out of the higher ranks 
of the community, either for speciality of intellect, or from 
disposition, or by the will of their parents, or from a desire 
to avoid military service, from which the Druids were ex- 
empt. There were no tribal distinctions among them. 
Their headquarters were in Britain, to which those who 
aspired to initiation in the more profound mysteries re- 
paired for instruction; but they were spread universally 
over Gaul and the British Islands. They were the minis- 
ters of public worship, the depositaries of knowledge, and 
the guardians of public morality. Young men repaired to 
the Druids for education. They taught theology; they 
taught the movements of the stars. They presided in the 
civil courts and determined questions of disputed inher- 
itance. They heard criminal cases and delivered judg- 
ment; and, as with the Church, their heaviest and most 
dreaded punishment was excommunication. The excom- 
municated person lost his civil rights. He became an out- 
law from society, and he was excluded from participation 
in the sacrifices. In the religious services the victims most 
acceptable to the gods were human beings — criminals, if 
such could be had; if not, then innocent persons, who were 
burnt to death in huge towers of wicker. In the Quema- 
dero at Seville, as in our own Smithfield, the prisoners of 
the Church were fastened to stakes, and the sticks with 
which they were consumed were tied into fagots, instead 
of being plaited into basketwork. So slight a difference 
does not materially affect the likeness. 

The tribal chieftainship and the religious organization of 
the Druids were both of them inherited from antiquity. 
They were institutions descending from the time when the 
Gauls had been a great people; but both had outlived the 
age to which they were adapted, and one at least was ap- 

l8o JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 58 

proaching its end. To Caesar's eye, coming new upon 
them, the Druids were an established fact, presenting no 
sign of decay, but in Gaul, infected with Roman manners, 
they existed merely by habit, exercising no influence any 
longer over the hearts of the people. In the great struggle 
which was approaching we find no Druids among the 
national leaders, no spirit of religion inspiring and conse- 
crating the efforts of patriotism. So far as can be seen, 
the Druids were on the Roman side, or the Romans had 
the skill to conciliate them. In half a century they were 
suppressed by Augustus, and they and their excommuni- 
cations, and their flaming wicker works, had to be sought 
for in distant Britain, or in the still more distant Ireland. 
The active and secular leadership could not disappear so 
easily. Leaders of some kind were still required and in- 
evitably found, but the method of selection in the times 
which had arrived was silently changing. While the Gallic 
nation retained, or desired to retain, a kind of unity, some 
one of the many tribes had always been allowed a hege- 
mony. The first place had rested generally with the 
^Edui, a considerable people who occupied the central 
parts of France, between the Upper Loire and the Saone. 
The Romans, anxious naturally to extend their influence 
in the country without direct interference, had taken the 
^Edui under their protectorate. The ^Edui again had 
their clients in the inferior tribes, and a Roman-^Eduan 
authority of a shadowy kind had thus penetrated through 
the whole nation. 

But the yEduans had rivals and competitors in the Se- 
quani, another powerful body in Burgundy and Franche- 
Comte. If the Romans feared the Gauls the Gauls in turn 
feared the Romans; and a national party had formed itself 
everywhere, especially among the younger men, who were 
proud of their independence, impatient of foreign control, 
and determined to maintain the liberties which had de- 
scended to them. To these the Sequani offered them- 
selves as champions. Among the ^Edui too there were 
fiery spirits who cherished the old traditions, and saw in the 

B. c. 58] THE .EDUI AND SEQUANI l8l 

Roman alliance a prelude to annexation. And thus it was 
that when Caesar was appointed to Gaul, in every tribe and 
every subtribe, in every village and every family, there 
were two factions, 2 each under its own captain, each strug- 
gling for supremacy, each conspiring and fighting among 
themselves, and each seeking or leaning upon external 
support. In many, if not in all, of the tribes there was a 
senate, or council of elders, and these appear almost 
everywhere to have been ^Eduan and Roman in their sym- 
pathies. The Sequani as the representatives of national- 
ism, knowing that they could not stand alone, had looked 
for friends elsewhere. 

The Germans had -ong turned covetous eyes upon the 
rich cornfields and pastures from which the Rhine divided 
them. The Cimbri and Teutons had been but the van- 
guard of a multitude who were eager to follow. The fate 
of these invaders had checked the impulse for half a cen- 
tury, but the lesson was now forgotten. Ariovistus, a 
Bavarian prince, who spoke Gaelic like a native, and had 
probably long meditated conquest, came over into 
Franche-Comte at the invitation of the Sequani, bringing 
his people with him. The few thousand families which 
were first introduced had been followed by fresh detach- 
ments; they had attacked and beaten the ^Edui, out of 
whose territories they intended to carve a settlement for 
themselves. They had taken hostages from them, and had 
broken down their authority, and the faction of the Se- 
quani was now everywhere in the ascendant. The ^Edui, 
three years before Caesar came, had appealed to Rome for 
assistance, and the Senate had promised that the Governor 
of Gaul should support them. The Romans, hoping to 
temporize with the danger, had endeavoured to conciliate 
Ariovistus, and in the year of Caesar's consulship had de- 
clared him a friend of the Roman people. Ariovistus, in 
turn, had pressed theiEdui still harder, and had forced them 
to renounce the Roman alliance. Among the ^Edui, and 
throughout the country, the patriots were in the ascendant, 
and Ariovistus and his Germans were welcomed as friends 

182 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 58 

and deliverers. Thoughtful persons in Rome had heard of 
these doings with uneasiness; an old yEduan chief had gone 
in person thither, to awaken the Senate to the growing 
peril; but the Senate had been too much occupied with its 
fears of Caesar, and Agrarian laws, and dangers to the fish- 
ponds, to attend; and now another great movement had 
begun, equally alarming and still closer to the Roman 

The Helvetii were old enemies. They were a branch of 
the Celtic race, who occupied modern Switzerland, hardy, 
bold mountaineers, and seasoned in constant war with their 
German neighbours. On them, too, the tide of migration 
from the North had pressed continuously. They had 
hitherto defended themselves successfully, but they were 
growing weary of these constant efforts. Their numbers 
were increasing, and their narrow valleys were too strait for 
them. They also had heard of fertile, scantily peopled 
lands in other parts, of which they could possess themselves 
by force or treaty, and they had already shown signs of rest- 
lessness. Many thousands of them had broken out at the 
time of the Cimbrian invasion. They had defeated Cassius 
Longinus, who was then consul, near their own border, and 
had annihilated his army. They had carried fire and sword 
down the left bank of the Rhone. They had united them- 
selves with the Teutons, and had intended to accompany 
them into Italy. Their first enterprise failed. They per- 
ished in the great battle at Aix, and the parent tribe had 
remained quiet for forty years till a new generation had 
grown to manhood. Once more their ambition had re- 
vived. Like the Germans, they had formed friendships 
among the Gallic factions. Their reputation as warriors 
made them welcome to the patriots. In a fight for inde- 
pendence they would form a valuable addition to the forces 
of their countrymen. They had allies among the Sequani; 
they had allies in the anti-Roman party which had risen 
among the TEdui; and a plan had been formed in concert 
with their friends for a migration to the shores of the Bay 
of Biscay between the mouths of the Garonne and the 

B.C. 58] THE HELVETII 1 83 

Loire. The Cimbri and Teutons had passed away, but the 
ease with which the Cimbri had made the circuit of these 
districts had shown how slight resistance could be ex- 
pected from the inhabitants. Perhaps their coming had 
been anticipated and prepared for. The older men among 
the Helvetii had discouraged the project when it was first 
mooted, but they had yielded to eagerness and enthusiasm, 
and it had taken at last a practical form. Double harvests 
had been raised; provision had been made of food and 
transport for a long march; and a complete exodus of the 
entire tribe with their wives and families had been finally 
resolved on. 

If the Helvetii deserted Switzerland, the cantons would 
be immediately occupied by Germans, and a road would 
be opened into the Province for the enemy whom the Ro- 
mans had most reason to dread. The distinction between 
Germans and Gauls was not accurately known at Rome. 
They were confounded under the common name of Celts 3 
or Barbarians. But they formed together an ominous 
cloud charged with forces of uncertain magnitude, but of 
the reality of which Italy had had already terrible experi- 
ence. Divitiacus, chief of the ^Edui, who had carried to 
Rome the news of the inroads of Ariovistus, brought 
again in person thither the account of th's fresh peril. 
Every large movement of population suggested the possi- 
bility of a fresh rush across the Alps. Little energy was to 
be expected from the Senate. But the body of the citizens 
were still sound at heart. Their lives and properties were 
at stake, and they could feel for the dignity of the Empire. 
The people had sent Pompey to crush the pirates and con- 
quer Mithridates. The people now looked to Caesar, and 
instead of the " woods and forests " which the Senate de- 
signed for him, they had given him a five-years' command 
on their western frontier. 

The details of the problem before him Caesar had yet to 
learn, but with its general nature he must have intimately 
acquainted himself. Of course he had seen and spoken 
with Divitiacus. He was consul when Ariovistus was 

1 84 JULIUS CESAR [ B . c. 58 

made " a friend of the Roman people/' He must have 
been aware, therefore, of the introduction of the Germans 
over the Rhine. He could not tell what he might have 
first to do. There were other unpleasant symptoms on 
the side of Illyria and the Danube. From either quarter 
the storm might break upon him. No Roman general was 
ever sent upon an enterprise so fraught with complicated 
possibilities, and few with less experience of the realities 
of war. 

The points in his favour were these: He was the ablest 
Roman then living, and he had the power of attract- 
ing and attaching the ablest men to his service. He had 
five years in which to look about him and to act at leisure 
— as much time as had been given to Pompey for the East. 
Like Pompey, too, he was left perfectly free. No sena- 
toral officials could encumber him with orders from home. 
The people had given him his command, and to the people 
alone he was responsible. Lastly, and beyond everything, 
he could rely with certainty on the material with which 
he had to work. The Roman legionaries were no longer 
yeomen taken from the plough or shopkeepers from the 
street. They were men more completely trained in every 
variety of accomplishment than have perhaps ever fol- 
lowed a general into the field before or since. It was not 
enough that they could use sword and lance. The cam- 
paign on which Caesar was about to enter was fought with 
spade and pick and axe and hatchet. Corps of engineers 
he may have had; but if the engineers designed the work, 
the execution lay with the army. No limited department 
would have been equal to the tasks which every day de- 
manded. On each evening after a march, a fortified camp 
was to be formed, with mound and trench, capable of re- 
sisting surprises, and demanding the labour of every single 
hand. Bridges had to be thrown over rivers. Ships and 
barges had to be built or repaired, capable of service 
against an enemy, on a scale equal to the requirements of 
an army, and in a haste which permitted no delay. A 
transport service there must have been organized to per- 


fection; but there were no stores sent from Italy to supply 
the daily waste of material. The men had to mend and 
perhaps make their own clothes and shoes, and repair their 
own arms. Skill in the use of tools was not enough with- 
out the tools themselves. Had the spades and mattocks 
been supplied by contract, had the axes been of soft iron, 
fair to the eye and failing to the stroke, not a man in 
Caesar's army would have returned to Rome to tell the tale 
of its destruction. How the legionaries acquired these 
various arts, whether the Italian peasantry were generally 
educated in such occupations, or whether on this occasion 
there was a special selection of the best, of this we have no 
information. Certain only it was that men and instru- 
ments were as excellent in their kind as honesty and skill 
could make them; and, however degenerate the patricians 
and corrupt the legislature, there was sound stuff some- 
where in the Roman constitution. No exertion, no fore- 
thought on the part of a commander could have extem- 
porized such a variety of qualities. Universal practical 
accomplishments must have formed part of the training of 
the free Roman citizens. Admirable workmanship was 
still to be had in each department of manufacture, and 
every article with which Caesar was provided must have 
been the best of its kind. 

The first quarter of the year 58 was consumed in prepa- 
rations. Caesar's antagonists in the Senate were still rav- 
ing against the acts of his consulship, threatening him with 
impeachment for neglecting Bibulus's interpellations, 
charging him with impiety for disregarding the weather, 
and clamouring for the suppression of his command. But 
Cicero's banishment damped the ardour of these gentle- 
men; after a few vicious efforts, they subsided into sullen- 
ness, and trusted to Ariovistus or the Helvetii to relieve 
them of their detested enemy. Caesar himself selected his 
officers. Cicero having declined to go as his lieutenant, 
he had chosen Labienus, who had acted with him when 
tribune, in the prosecution of Rabirius, and had procured 
him the pontificate by giving the election to the people. 

186 JULIUS (LESAR [b. c. 58 

Young men of rank in large numbers had forgotten party 
feeling, and had attached themselves to the expedition as 
volunteers to learn military experience. His own equip- 
ments were of the simplest. No common soldier was 
more careless of hardships than Caesar. His chief luxury 
was a favourite horse, which would allow no one but Caesar 
to mount him; a horse which had been bred in his own 
stables, and, from the peculiarity of a divided hoof, had led 
the augurs to foretell wonders for the rider of it. His ar- 
rangements were barely completed when news came in 
the middle of March that the Helvetii were burning their 
towns and villages, gathering their families into their wag- 
gons, and were upon the point of commencing their emigra- 
tion. Their numbers, according to a register which was 
found afterwards, were 368,000, of whom 92,000 were 
fighting men. They were bound for the West; and there 
were two roads, by one or other of which alone they could 
leave their country. One was on the right bank of the 
Rhone by the Pas de l'Ecluse, a pass between the Jura 
mountains and the river, so narrow that but two carts 
could go abreast along it; the other, and easier, was 
through Savoy, which was now Roman. 

Under any aspect the transit of so vast a body through 
Roman teritory could not but be dangerous. Savoy was 
the very ground on which Longinus had been destroyed. 
Yet it was in this direction that the Helvetii were pre- 
paring to pass, and would pass unless they were prevented; 
while in the whole Transalpine province there was but a 
single legion to oppose them. Caesar started on the in- 
stant. He reached Marseilles in a few days, joined his 
legion, collected a few levies in the Province, and hurried 
to Geneva. Where the river leaves the lake there was a 
bridge which the Helvetii had neglected to occupy. 
Caesar broke it, and thus secured a breathing time. The 
Helvetii, who were already on the move and were assem- 
bling in force a few miles off, sent to demand a passage. 
If it was refused, there was more than one spot between 
the lake and the Pas de l'Ecluse where the river could be 

b. c. 58] THE HELVETII 1 87 

forded. The Roman force was small, and Caesar post- 
poned his reply. It was the 1st of April; he promised an 
answer on the 15th. In the interval he threw up forts, 
dug trenches, and raised walls at every point where a pass- 
age could be attempted; and when the time was expired, 
he declined to permit them to enter the Province. They 
tried to ford; they tried boats; but at every point they 
were beaten back. It remained for them to go by the 
Pas de l'Ecluse. For this route they required the consent 
of the Sequani; and, however willing the Sequani might 
be to see them in their neighbours' territories, they might 
object to the presence in their own of such a flight of de- 
vouring locusts. Eviderdy, however, there was some 
general scheme, of which the entry of the Helvetii into 
Gaul was the essential part; and through the mediation 
of Dumnorix, an yEduan and an ardent patriot, the Se- 
quani were induced to agree. 

The Province had been saved, but the exodus of the 
enormous multitude could no longer be prevented. If 
such waves of population were allowed to wander at 
pleasure, it was inevitable that sooner or later they would 
overflow the borders of the Empire. Caesar determined to 
show, at once and peremptorily, that these movements 
would not be permitted without the Romans' consent. 
Leaving Labienus to guard the forts on the Rhone, he 
hurried back to Italy, gathered up his three legions at 
Aquileia, raised two more at Turin with extreme rapidity, 
and returned with them by the shortest route over the Mont 
Genevre. The mountain tribes attacked him, but could 
not even delay his march. In seven days he had sur- 
mounted the passes, and was again with Labienus. 

The Helvetii, meanwhile, had gone through the Pas de 
l'Ecluse, and were now among the ^Edui, laying waste the 
country. It was early in the summer. The corn was 
green, the hay was still uncut, and the crops were being 
eaten off the ground. The iEdui threw themselves on the 
promised protection of Rome. Caesar crossed the Rhone 
above Lyons, and came up with the marauding hosts as 

1 88 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 58 

they were leisurely passing in boats over the Saone. They 
had been twenty days upon the river, transporting their 
waggons and their families. Three-quarters of them were 
on the other side. The Tigurini from Zurich, the most 
warlike of their tribes, were still on the left bank. The 
Tigurini had destroyed the army of Longinus, and on 
them the first retribution fell. Caesar cut them to pieces. 
A single day sufficed to throw a bridge over the Saone and 
the Helvetii, who had looked for nothing less than to be 
pursued by six Roman legions, begged for peace. They 
were willing, they said, to go to any part of the country 
which Caesar would assign to them; and they reminded him 
that they might be dangerous, if pushed to extremities. 
Caesar knew that they were dangerous. He had followed 
them because he knew it. He said that they must return 
the way they had come. They must pay for the injuries 
which they had inflicted on the ^Edui, and they must give 
him hostages for their obedience. The fierce mountain- 
eers replied that they had been more used to demand host- 
ages than to give them; and confident in their numbers, 
and in their secret allies among the Gauls, they marched on 
through the iEduan territories up the level banks of the 
Saone, thence striking west towards Autun. 

Caesar had no cavalry; but every Gaul could ride, and he 
raised a few thousand horse among his supposed allies. 
These he meant to employ to harass the Helvetian march; 
but they were secret traitors, under the influence of Dum- 
norix, and they fled at the first encounter. The Helvetii 
had thus the country at their mercy, and they laid it waste 
as they went, a day's march in advance of the Romans. 
So long as they kept by the river Caesar's stores accom- 
panied him in barges. He did not choose to let the Hel- 
vetii out of his sight, and when they left the Saone, and 
when he was obliged to follow, his provisions ran short. 
He applied to the iEduan chiefs, who promised to furnish 
him, but they failed to do it. Ten days passed, and no 
supplies came in. He ascertained at last that there was 
treachery. Dumnorix and other y£duan leaders were in 

b. c. 58] THE HELVETII 1 89 

correspondence with the enemy. The cavalry defeat and 
the other failures were thus explained. Caesar, who 
trusted much to gentleness and to personal influence, was 
unwilling to add the ^Edui to his open enemies. Dum- 
norix was the brother of Divitiacus, the reigning chief, 
whom Caesar had known in Rome. Divitiacus was sent 
for, confessed with tears his brother's misdeeds, and 
begged that he might be forgiven. Dumnorix was 
brought in. Caesar showed him that he was aware of his 
conduct; but spoke kindly to him, and cautioned him for 
the future. The corn carts, however, did not appear; sup- 
plies could not be dispensed with; and the Romans, leav- 
ing the Helvetii, struck 6rT to Bibracte, on Mont Beau- 
vray, the principal ^Eduan town in the highlands of Niver- 
nais. Unfortunately for themselves, the Helvetii thought 
the Romans were flying, and became in turn the pursuers. 
They gave Caesar an opportunity, and a single battle ended 
them and their migrations. The engagement lasted from 
noon till night. The Helvetii fought gallantly, and in 
numbers were enormously superior; but the contest was 
between skill and courage, sturdy discipline and wild val- 
our; and it concluded as such contests always must. In 
these hand-to-hand engagements there were no wounded. 
Half the fighting men of the Swiss were killed; their camp 
was stormed; the survivors, with the remnant of the wo- 
men and children, or such of them as were capable of mov- 
ing (for thousands had perished, and a little more than a 
third remained of those who had left Switzerland), strag- 
gled on to Langres, where they surrendered. Caesar 
treated the poor creatures with kindness and care. A few 
were settled in Gaul, where they afterwards did valuable 
service. The rest were sent back to their own cantons, 
lest the Germans should take possession of their lands; 
and lest they should starve in the homes which they had 
desolated before their departure, they were provided with 
food out of the Province till their next crops were grown. 

A victory so complete and so unexpected astonished the 
whole country. The peace party recovered the ascend- 

190 JULIUS C/ESAR [b. c. 58 

ency. Envoys came from all the Gaulish tribes to con- 
gratulate, and a diet of chiefs was held under Caesar's presi- 
dency, where Gaul and Roman seemed to promise one 
another eternal friendship. As yet, however, half the mis- 
chief only had been dealt with, and that the lighter part. 
The Helvetii were disposed of, but the Germans remained; 
and till Ariovistus was back across the Rhone, no permanent 
peace was possible. Hitherto Caesar had only received 
vague information about Ariovistus. When the diet was 
over, such of the chiefs as were sincere in their professions 
came to him privately and explained what the Germans 
were about. A hundred and twenty thousand of them 
were now settled near Belfort, and between the Vosges 
and the Rhine, with the connivance of the Sequani. More 
were coming; in a short time Gaul would be full of them. 
They had made war on the ^Edui; they were in correspon- 
dence with the anti-Roman faction; their object was the 
permanent occupation of the country. 

Two months still remained of summer. Caesar was now 
conveniently near to the German positions. His army 
was in high spirits from its victory, and he himself was 
prompt in forming resolutions and swift in executing them. 
An injury to the yEdui could be treated as an injury to the 
Romans, which it would be dishonour to pass over. If the 
Germans were allowed to overrun Gaul, they might soon 
be seen again in Italy. 

Ariovistus was a " friend of Rome." Caesar had been 
himself a party to the conferring this distinction upon 
him. As a friend, therefore, he was in the first instance 
to be approached. Caesar sent to invite him to a confer- 
ence. Ariovistus, it seemed, set small value upon his 
honours. He replied that if he needed anything from 
Caesar, he would go to Caesar and ask for it. If Caesar 
required anything from him, Caesar might do the same. 
Meanwhile Caesar was approaching a part of Gaul which 
belonged to himself by right of conquest, and he wished to 
know the meaning of the presence of a Roman army there. 

After such an answer, politeness ceased to be necessary. 


Caesar rejoined that since Ariovistus estimated so lightly 
his friendship with the Romans as to refuse an amicable 
meeting, he would inform him briefly of his demands upon 
him. The influx of Germans on the Rhine must cease: 
no more must come in. He must restore the hostages 
which he had taken from the ^Edui, and do them no further 
hurt. If Ariovistus complied, the Romans would con- 
tinue on good terms with him. If not, he said that by a 
decree of the Senate the Governor of Gaul was ordered to 
protect the ^Edui, and he intended to do it. 

Ariovistus answered that he had not interfered with the 
Romans; and the Romans had no right to interfere with 
him. Conquerors treated their subjects as they pleased. 
The ^Edui had begun the quarrel with him. They had 
been defeated, and were now his vassals. If Caesar chose 
to come between him and his subjects, he would have an 
opportunity of seeing how Germans could fight who had 
not for fourteen years slept under a roof. 

It was reported that a large body of Suevi were coming 
over the Rhine to swell Ariovistus's force, and that Ari- 
ovistus was on the point of advancing to seize Besangon. 
Besanqon was a position naturally strong, being sur- 
rounded on three sides by the Doubs. It was full of mili- 
tary stores, and was otherwise important for the control 
of the Sequani. Caesar advanced swiftly and took posses- 
sion of the place, and announced that he meant to go and 
look for Ariovistus. 

The army so far had gained brilliant successes, but the 
men were not yet fully acquainted with the nature of their 
commander. They had never yet looked Germans in the 
face and imagination magnifies the unknown. Roman mer- 
chants and the Gauls of the neighbourhood brought stories 
of the gigantic size and strength of these Northern war- 
riors. The glare of their eyes was reported to be so fierce 
that it could not be borne. They were wild, wonderful, 
and dreadful. Young officers, patricians and knights, 
who had followed Caesar for a little mild experience, began 
to dislike the notion of these new enemies. Some applied 

I92 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 58 

for leave of absence; others, though ashamed to ask to be 
allowed to leave the army, cowered in their tents with sink- 
ing hearts, made their wills, and composed last messages 
for their friends. The centurions caught the alarm from 
their superiors, and the legionaries from the centurions. 
To conceal their fear of the Germans, the men discovered 
that, if they advanced further, it would be through regions 
where provisions could not follow them, and that they 
would be starved in the forests. At length, Caesar was in- 
formed that if he gave the order to march, the army would 
refuse to move. 

Confident in himself, Caesar had the power, so indis- 
pensable for a soldier, of inspiring confidence in others 
as soon as they came to know what he was. He called 
his officers together. He summoned the centurions, and 
rebuked them sharply for questioning his purposes. The 
German king, he said, had been received at his own re- 
quest into alliance with the Romans, and there was no 
reason to suppose that he meant to break with them. 
Most likely he would do what was required of him. If 
not, was it to be conceived that they were afraid? Marius 
had beaten these same Germans. Even the Swiss had 
beaten them. They were no more formidable than other 
barbarians. They might trust their commander for the 
commissariat. The harvest was ripe, and the difficulties 
were nothing. As to the refusal to march, he did not 
believe in it. Romans never mutinied, save through the 
rapacity or incompetence of their general. His life was 
a witness that he was not rapacious, and his victory over 
the Helvetii that as yet he had made no mistake. He 
should order the advance on the next evening, and it would 
then be seen whether sense of duty or cowardice was the 
stronger. If others declined, Caesar said that he should 
go forward alone with the legion which he knew would 
follow him, the Tenth, which was already his favourite. 

The speech was received with enthusiasm. The Tenth 
thanked Caesar for his compliment to them. The rest, 
officers and men, declared their willingness to follow wher- 


ever he might lead them. He started with Divitiacus for 
a guide; and, passing Belfort, came in seven days to Cernay 
or to some point near it. Ariovistus was now but four- 
and-twenty miles from him. Since Caesar had gone so far, 
Ariovistus said that he was willing to meet him. Day and 
place were named, the conditions being that the armies 
should remain in their ranks, and that Caesar and he 
might each bring a guard of horse to the interview. He 
expected that Caesar would be contented with an escort of 
the iEduan cavalry. Caesar, knowing better than to trust 
himself with Gauls, mounted his Tenth Legion, and with 
them proceeded to the sp? : which Ariovistus had chosen. 
It was a tumulus, in the centre of a large plain equidistant 
from the two camps. The guard on either side remained 
two hundred paces in the rear. The German prince and 
the Roman general met on horseback at the mound, each 
accompanied by ten of his followers. Caesar spoke first 
and fairly. He reminded Ariovistus of his obligations 
to the Romans. The yEdui, he said, had from imme- 
morial time been the leading tribe in Gaul. The Romans 
had an alliance with them of old standing, and never de- 
serted their friends. He required Ariovistus to desist 
from attacking them, and to return their hostages. He 
consented that the Germans already across the Rhine 
might remain in Gaul, but he demanded a promise that no 
more should be brought over. 

Ariovistus haughtily answered that he was a great king; 
that he had come into Gaul by the invitation of the Gauls 
themselves; that the territory which he occupied was a gift 
from them; and that the hostages of whom Caesar spoke 
had remained with him with their free consent. The 
iEdui, he said, had begun the war, and, being defeated, 
were made justly to pay forfeit. He had sought the friend- 
ship of the Romans, expecting to profit by it. If friend- 
ship meant the taking away his subjects from him, he 
desired no more of such friendship. The Romans had 
their province. It was enough for them, and they might 
remain there unmolested. But Caesar's presence so far 

194 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 58 

beyond his own borders was a menace to his own inde- 
pendence, and his independence he intended to maintain. 
Caesar must go away out of those parts, or he and his 
Germans would know how to deal with him. 

Then, speaking perhaps more privately, he told Caesar 
that he knew something of Rome and of the Roman Sen- 
ate, and had learnt how the great people there stood 
affected toward the Governor of Gaul. Certain members 
of the Roman aristocracy had sent him messages to say 
that if he killed Caesar they would hold it a good service 
done, 4 and would hold him their friend forever. He did 
not wish, he said, to bind himself to these noble persons. 
He would prefer Caesar rather; and would fight Caesar's 
battles for him anywhere in the world if Caesar would but 
retire and leave him. Ariovistus was misled, not unnatu- 
rally, by these strange communications from the sovereign 
rulers of the Empire. He did not know, he could not 
know, that the genius of Rome and the true chief of Rome 
were not in the treacherous Senate, but were before him 
there on the field in the persons of Caesar and his legions. 

More might have passed between them; but Ariovistus 
thought to end the conference by a stroke of treachery. 
His German guard had stolen round to where the Romans 
stood, and, supposing that they had Gauls to deal with, 
were trying to surround and disarm them. The men of 
the Tenth Legion stood firm; Caesar fell back and joined 
them, and, contenting themselves with simply driving off 
the enemy, they rode back to the camp. 

The army was now passionate for an engagement. Ari- 
ovistus affected a desire for further communication, and 
two officers were despatched to hear what he had to say; 
but they were immediately seized and put in chains, and 
the Germans advanced to within a few miles of the Ro- 
man outposts. The Romans lay intrenched near Cernay. 
The Germans were at Colmar. Caesar offered battle, which 
Ariovistus declined. Cavalry fights happened daily which 
led to nothing. Caesar then formed a second camp, 
smaller but strongly fortified, within sight of the enemy, 

b. c. 58-57] BATTLE AT COLMAR 195 

and threw two legions into it. Ariovistus attacked them, 
but he was beaten back with loss. The " wise women " 
advised him to try no more till the new moon. But Caesar 
would not wait for the moon, and forced an engagement. 
The wives and daughters of the Germans rushed about 
their camp, with streaming hair, adjuring their country- 
men to save them from slavery. The Germans fought like 
heroes; but they could not stand against the short sword 
and hand-to-hand grapple of the legionaries. Better arms 
and better discipline again asserted the superiority; and 
in a few hours the invaders were flying wildly to the Rhine. 
Young Publius Crassus, t:.e son of the millionaire, pur- 
sued with the cavalry. A few swam the river; a few, Ari- 
ovistus among them, escaped in boats; all the rest, men 
and women alike, were cut down and killed. The Suevi, 
who were already on the Rhine, preparing to cross, turned 
back into their forests; and the two immediate perils which 
threatened the peace of Gaul had been encountered and 
trampled out in a single summer. The first campaign was 
thus ended. The legions were distributed in winter 
quarters among the Sequani, the contrivers of the mischief; 
and Labienus was left in charge of them. Caesar went 
back over the Alps to the Cisalpine division of the Prov- 
ince to look into the administration and to communicate 
with his friends in Rome. 

In Gaul there was outward quiet; but the news of the 
Roman victories penetrated the farthest tribes and agi- 
tated the most distant households on the shores of the 
North Sea. The wintering of the legions beyond the 
province was taken to indicate an intention of permanent 
conquest. The Gauls proper were divided and overawed; 
but the Belgians of the North were not prepared to part 
so easily with their liberty. The Belgians considered that 
they too were menaced, and that now or never was the time 
to strike for their independence. They had not been in- 
fected with Roman manners. They had kept the mer- 
chants from their borders with their foreign luxuries. The 
Nervii, the fiercest of them, as the abstemious Caesar 

196 JULIUS C.ESAR [b. c. 57 

marks with approbation, were water-drinkers, and forbade 
wine to be brought among them, as injurious to their sin- 
ews and their courage. Caesar learnt while in Italy from 
Labienus that the Belgae were mustering and combining. 
A second vast horde of Germans were in Flanders and 
Artois; men of the same race with the Belgae and in active 
confederacy with them. They might have been left in 
peace, far off as they were, had they sat still; but the notes 
of their preparations were sounding through the country 
and feeding the restless spirit which was stunned but not 

Caesar, on his own responsibility, raised two more legions 
and sent them across the Alps in the spring. When the 
grass began to grow he followed himself. Suddenly, be- 
fore anyone looked for him, he was on the Marne with 
his army. The Remi (people of Rheims), startled by his 
unexpected appearance, sent envoys with their submission 
and offers of hostages. The other Belgian tribes, they 
said, were determined upon war, and were calling all their 
warriors under arms. Their united forces were reported 
to amount to 300,000. The Bellovaci from the mouth of 
the Seine had sent 60,000; the Suessiones from Soissons, 
50,000; the Nervii, between the Sambre and the Scheldt, 
50,000; Arras and Amiens, 25,000; the coast tribes, 36,000; 
and the tribes between the Ardennes and the Rhine, called 
collectively Germani, 40,000 more. This irregular host 
was gathered in the forests between Laon and Soissons. 

Caesar did not wait for them to move. He advanced 
at once to Rheims, where he called the Senate together 
and encouraged them to be constant to the Roman alli- 
ance. He sent a party of ^Edui down the Seine to harass 
the territory of the Bellovaci and recall them to their own 
defence; and he went on himself to the Aisne, which he 
crossed by a bridge already existing at Berry-au-Bac. 
There, with the bridge and river at his back, he formed an 
intrenched camp of extraordinary strength, with a wall 
twelve feet high and a fosse twenty-two feet deep. 
Against an attack with modern artillery such defences 

B. c. 57] DEFEAT OF THE BELG^ 197 

would, of course, be idle. As the art of war then stood, 
they were impregnable. In this position Caesar waited, 
leaving six cohorts on the left bank to guard the other end 
of the bridge. The Belgae came forward and encamped in 
his front. Their watch-fires at night were seen stretching 
along a line eight miles wide. Caesar, after feeling his way 
with his cavalry, found a rounded ridge projecting like a 
promontory into the plain where the Belgian host was 
lying. On this he advanced his legions, protecting his 
flanks with continuous trenches and earthworks, on which 
were placed heavy crossbo/vs, the ancient predecessors of 
cannon. Between these lines, if he attacked the enemy 
and failed, he had a secure retreat. A marsh lay between 
the armies; and each waited for the other to cross. The 
Belgians, impatient of the delay, flung themselves suddenly 
on one side and began to pour across the river, intending 
to destroy the cohorts on the other bank, to cut the bridge, 
and burn and plunder among the Remi. Caesar calmly 
sent back his cavalry and his archers and slingers. They 
caught the enemy in the water or struggling out of it in 
confusion; all who had got over were killed; multitudes 
were slaughtered in the river; others, trying to cross on 
the bodies of their comrades, were driven back. The con- 
federates, shattered at a single defeat, broke up like an ex- 
ploded shell. Their provisions had run short. They 
melted away and dispersed to their homes, Labienus pur- 
suing and cutting down all that he could overtake. 

The Roman loss was insignificant in this battle. The 
most remarkable feature in Caesar's campaigns, and that 
which indicates most clearly his greatness as a commander, 
was the smallness of the number of men that he ever lost, 
either by the sword or by wear and tear. No general was 
ever so careful of his soldiers' lives. 

Soissons, a fortified Belgian town, surrendered the next 
day. From Soissons Caesar marched on Breteuil and 
thence on Amiens, which surrendered also. The Bellovaci 
sent in their submission, the leaders of the war party having 
fled to Britain. Caesar treated them all with scrupu- 

198 JULIUS (LESAR [b. c. 57 

lous forbearance, demanding nothing but hostages for their 
future good behaviour. His intention at this time was 
apparently not to annex any of these tribes to Rome, but 
to settle the country in a quasi-independence under an 
yEduan hegemony. 

But the strongest member of the confederacy was still 
unsubdued. The hardy, brave, and water-drinking Nervii 
remained defiant. The Nervii would send no envoys; they 
would listen to no terms of peace. 5 Caesar learnt that 
they were expecting to be joined by the Aduatuci, a tribe 
of pure Germans, who had been left behind near Liege at 
the time of the invasion of the Teutons. Preferring to 
engage them separately, he marched from Amiens through 
Cambray, and sent forward some officers and pioneers to 
choose a spot for a camp on the Sambre. Certain Gauls, 
who had observed his habits on march, deserted to the 
Nervii and informed them that usually a single legion went 
in advance, the baggage waggons followed, and the rest of 
the army came in the rear. By a sudden attack in front 
they could overwhelm the advanced troops, plunder the 
carts, and escape before they could be overtaken. It hap- 
pened that on this occasion the order was reversed. The 
country was inclosed with thick fences, which required to 
be cut through. Six legions marched in front, clearing a 
road; the carts came next, and two legions behind. The 
site selected by the officers was on the left bank of the 
Sambre at Maubeuge, fifty miles above Namur. The 
ground sloped easily down to the river, which was there 
about a yard in depth. There was a corresponding rise on 
the other side, which was densely covered with wood. In 
this wood the whole force of the Nervii lay concealed, a few 
only showing themselves on the water side. Caesar's 
light horse which had gone forward, seeing a mere handful 
of stragglers, rode through the stream and skirmished with 
them; but the enemy retired under cover; the horse did not 
pursue; the six legions came up, and, not dreaming of the 
nearness of the enemy, laid aside their arms, and went to 
work intrenching with spade and mattock. The baggage 

b. c. 57] BATTLE WITH THE NERVII 1 99 

waggons began presently to appear at the crest of the hill, 
the signal for which the Nervii had waited; and in a mo- 
ment all along the river sixty thousand of them rushed 
out of the forest, sent the cavalry flying, and came on so 
impetuously that, as Caesar said, they seemed to be in the 
wood, in the water, and up the opposite bank at sword's 
point with the legions at the same moment. The surprise 
was complete: the Roman army was in confusion. Many 
of the soldiers were scattered at a distance, cutting turf. 
None were in their ranks, and none were armed. Never 
in all his campaigns was Caesar in greater danger. He 
could himself give no general orders which there was time 
to observe. Two points only, he said, were in his favour. 
The men themselves were intelligent and experienced, and 
knew what they had to do; and the officers were all present, 
because he had directed that none of them should leave 
their companies till the camp was completed. The troops 
were spread loosely in their legions along the brow of the 
ridge. Caesar joined the Tenth on his right wing, and had 
but time to tell the men to be cool and not to agitate them- 
selves, when the enemy were upon them. So sudden was 
the onslaught that they could neither put their helmets on, 
nor strip the coverings from their shields, nor find their 
places in the ranks. They fought where they stood among 
thick hedges which obstructed the sight of what was pass- 
ing elsewhere. Though the Aduatuci had not come up, 
the Nervii had allies with them from Arras and the Somme. 
The allies encountered the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and 
Eleventh legions, and were driven rapidly back down the 
hill through the river. The Romans, led by Labienus, 
crossed in pursuit, followed them into the forest, and took 
their camp. The Nervii meanwhile flung themselves with 
all their force on the two legions on the left, the Twelfth 
and Seventh, enveloped them with their numbers, pene- 
trated behind them, and fell upon the baggage waggons. 
The light troops and the camp followers fled in all di- 
rections. The legionaries, crowded together in confusion, 
were righting at disadvantage, and were falling thick and 

200 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 57 

fast. A party of horse from Treves, who had come to 
treat with Caesar, thought that all was lost, and rode off to 
tell their countrymen that the Romans were destroyed. 

Caesar, who was in the other wing, learning late what 
was going on, hurried to the scene. He found the stand- 
ards huddled together, the men packed so close that they 
could not use their swords, almost all of the officers killed 
or wounded, and one of the best of them, Sextius Baculus 
(Caesar always paused in his narrative to note anyone who 
specially distinguished himself), scarce able to stand. 
Caesar had come up unarmed. He snatched a shield from 
a soldier, and, bare-headed, flew to the front. He was 
known; he addressed the centurions by their names. He 
bade them open their ranks and give the men room to 
strike. His presence and his calmness gave them back 
their confidence. In the worst extremities he observed 
that soldiers will fight well under their commander's eye. 
The cohorts formed into order. The enemy was checked. 
The two legions from the rear, who had learnt the danger 
from the flying camp followers, came up. Labienus, from 
the opposite hill, saw what had happened, and sent the 
Tenth legion back. All was now changed. The fugitives, 
ashamed of their cowardice, rallied, and were eager to 
atone for it. The Nervii fought with a courage which 
rilled Caesar with admiration — men of greater spirit he said 
that he had never seen. As their first ranks fell, they piled 
the bodies of their comrades into heaps, and from the 
top of them hurled back the Roman javelins. They 
would not fly; they dropped where they stood; and the 
battle ended only with their extermination. Out of 600 
senators there survived but three; out of 60,000 men able 
to bear arms, only 500. The aged of the tribe, and the wo- 
men and children who had been left in the morasses for 
security, sent in their surrender, their warriors being all 
dead. They professed to fear lest they might be destroyed 
by neighbouring clans who were on bad terms with them. 
Caesar received them and protected them, and gave severe 
injunctions that they should suffer no injury. 

B. c. 57] CAPTURE OF NAMUR 201 

By the victory over the Nervii the Belgian confederacy 
was almost extinguished. The German Aduatuci re- 
mained only to be brought to submission. They had been 
on their way to join their countrymen; they were too late 
for the battle, and returned and shut themselves up in 
Namur, the strongest position in the Low Countries. 
Caesar, after a short rest, pushed on and came under their 
walls. The Aduatuci were a race of giants, and were at 
first defiant. When they saw the Romans' siege towers 
in preparation, they could not believe that men so small 
could move such vast machines. When the towers began 
to approach, they lost heirt and sued for terms. Caesar 
promised to spare their lives and properties if they sur- 
rendered immediately, but he refused to grant conditions. 
They had prayed to be allowed to keep their arms; affect- 
ing to believe, like the Nervii, that they would be in danger 
from the Gauls if they were unable to defend themselves. 
Caesar undertook that they should have no hurt, but he 
insisted that their arms must be given up. They affected 
obedience. They flung their swords and lances over the 
walls till the ditch was filled with them. They opened 
their gates; the Romans occupied them, but were forbidden 
to enter, that there might be no plundering. It seems that 
there was a desperate faction among the Aduatuci who had 
been for fighting to extremity. A third part of the arms 
had been secretly reserved, and after midnight the tribe 
sallied with all their force, hoping to catch the Romans 
sleeping. Caesar was not to be surprised a second time. 
Expecting that some such attempt might be made, he had 
prepared piles of fagots in convenient places. These bon- 
fires were set blazing in an instant. By their red light the 
legions formed; and, after a desperate but unequal com- 
bat, the Germans were driven into the town again, leaving 
4000 dead. In the morning the gates were broken down, 
and Namur was taken without more resistance. Caesar's 
usual practice was gentleness. He honoured brave men, 
and never punished bold and open opposition. Of treach- 
ery he made a severe example. Namur was condemned. 

202 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 57 

The Aduatuci within its walls were sold into slavery, and 
the contractors who followed the army returned the num- 
ber of prisoners whom they had purchased at 53,000. 
Such captives were the most valuable form of spoil. 

The Belgse were thus crushed as completely as the Gauls 
had been crushed in the previous year. Publius Crassus 
had meanwhile made a circuit of Brittany, and had re- 
ceived the surrender of the maritime tribes. So great was 
the impression made by these two campaigns, that the 
Germans beyond the Rhine sent envoys with offers of sub- 
mission. The second season was over. Caesar left the 
legions in quarters about Chartres, Orleans, and Blois. He 
himself returned to Italy again, where his presence was 
imperatively required. The Senate, on the news of his 
successes, had been compelled, by public sentiment, to order 
an extraordinary thanksgiving; but there were men who 
were anxious to prevent Caesar from achieving any further 
victories since Ariovistus had failed to destroy him. 


1 Page 177. Perhaps in consequence of the Catiline conspiracy. 

8 Page 181. "In Gallia non solum in omnibus civitatibus atque in 
omnibus pagis partibusque sed paene etiam in singulis domibus factiones 
sunt, earumque factionum principes sunt qui summam auctoritatem 
eorum judicio habere existimantur. . . Haec est ratio in summa totius 
Galliae, namque omnes civitates in partes divisae sunt duas. Cum 
Caesar in Galliam venit, alterius factionis principes erant Haedui, al- 
terius Sequani." — De Bello Gallico, lib. vi. capp. n, 12. 

8 Page 183. Even Dion Cassius speaks of the Germans as KcXto/. 

4 Page 194. "Id se ab ipsis per eorum nuntios compertum habere, 
quorum omnium gratiam atque amicitiam ejus morte redimere posset." 
— De Bell. Gall., i. 44. 

5 Page 198. Caesar thus records his admiration of the Nervian char- 
acter : " Quorum de natura moribusque Caesar cum quaereret sic reperi- 
ebat, nullum aditum esse ad eos mercatoribus; nihil pati vini reliqua- 
rumque re rum ad luxuriam pertinentium inferri, quod iis rebus re- 
languescere animos eorum et remitti virtutem existimarent : esse 
homines feros magnaeque virtutis; increpitare atque incusare reliquos 
Belgas qui se populo Romano dedidissent patriamque virtutem pro- 
jecissent ; confirmare sese neque legatos missuros neque ullam con- 
ditionem pacisaccepturos." — De Bell. Gal., ii. 15. 


BEFORE his own catastrophe, and before he could 
believe that he was in danger, Cicero had discerned 
clearly the perils which threatened the State. The 
Empire was growing more extensive. The " Tritons of 
the fish-ponds " still held the reins; and believed their own 
supreme duty was to divice the spoils among themselves. 
The pyramid was standing on its point. The mass which 
rested on it was becoming more portentous and unwieldy. 
The Senate was the official power; the armies were the real 
power; and the imagination of the Senate was that after 
each conquest the soldiers would be dismissed back into 
humble life unrewarded, while the noble lords took posses- 
sion of the new acquisitions, and added new millions to their 
fortunes. All this Cicero knew, and yet he had persuaded 
himself that it could continue without bringing on a catas- 
trophe. He saw his fellow senators openly bribed; he saw 
the elections become a mere matter of money. He saw 
adventurers pushing themselves into office by steeping 
themselves in debt, and paying their debts by robbing the 
provincials. He saw these high-born scoundrels coming 
home loaded with treasure, buying lands and building 
palaces, and, when brought to trial, purchasing the con- 
sciences of their judges. Yet he had considered such 
phenomena as the temporary accidents of a constitution 
which was still the best that could be conceived, and every- 
one that doubted the excellence of it he had come to regard 
as an enemy of mankind. So long as there was free speech 
in Senate and platform for orators like himself, all would 
soon be well again. Had not he, a mere country gentle- 
man's son, risen under it to wealth and consideration? and 
was not his own rise a sufficient evidence that there was no 


204 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 57 

real injustice? Party struggles were over, or had no ex- 
cuse for continuance. Sylla's constitution had been too 
narrowly aristocratic. But Sylla's invidious laws had been 
softened by compromise. The tribunes had recovered 
their old privileges. The highest offices of State were open 
to the meanest citizen who was qualified for them. Indi- 
viduals of merit might have been kept back for a time by 
jealousy; the Senate had too long objected to the pro- 
motion of Pompey; but their opposition had been 
overcome by purely constitutional means. The great 
general had obtained his command by land and sea; he, 
Cicero, having by eloquent speech proved to the people 
that he ought to be nominated. What could anyone wish 
for more? And yet Senate and Forum were still filled with 
faction, quarrel, and discontent! One interpretation only 
Cicero had been able to place on such a phenomenon. In 
Rome, as in all great communities, there were multitudes 
of dissolute, ruined wretches, the natural enemies of prop- 
erty and order. Bankrupt members of the aristocracy had 
lent themselves to these people as their leaders, and had 
been the cause of all the trouble of the past years. If such 
renegades to their order could be properly discouraged or 
extinguished, Cicero had thought that there would be 
nothing more to desire. Catiline he had himself made an 
end of to his own immortal glory, but now Catiline had 
revived in Clodius; and Clodius, so far from being discour- 
aged, was petted and encouraged by responsible statesmen 
who ought to have known better. Caesar had employed 
him; Crassus had employed him; even Pompey had stooped 
to connect himself with the scandalous young incendiary, 
and had threatened to call in the army if the Senate at- 
tempted to repeal Caesar's iniquitous laws. 1 Still more in- 
explicable was the ingratitude of the aristocracy and their 
friends, the " boni " or good — the " Conservatives of the 
State," 2 as Cicero still continued to call Caesar's op- 
ponents. He respected them; he loved them; he had done 
more for their cause than any single man in the Empire; 
and yet they had never recognised his services by word or 


deed. He had felt tempted to throw up public life in dis- 
gust, and retire to privacy and philosophy. 

So Cicero had construed the situation before his exile, 
and he had construed it ill. If he had wished to retire he 
could not. He had been called to account for the part of 
his conduct for which he most admired himself. The un- 
gracious Senate, as guilty as he, if guilt there had been, had 
left him to bear the blame of it, and he saw himself driven 
into banishment by an insolent reprobate, a patrician 
turned Radical and demagogue, Publius Clodius. In- 
dignity could be carried no farther. 

Clodius is the most extrr ordinary figure in this extraor- 
dinary period. He had no character. He had no distin- 
guished talent save for speech; he had no policy; he was 
ready to adopt any cause or person which for the moment 
was convenient to him; and yet for five years this man was 
the omnipotent leader of the Roman mob. He could defy 
justice, insult the consuls, beat the tribunes, parade the 
streets with a gang of armed slaves, killing persons dis- 
agreeable to him, and in the Senate itself he had his high 
friends and connections who threw a shield over him when 
his audacity had gone beyond endurance. We know 
Clodius only from Cicero; and a picture of him from a 
second hand might have made his position more intelligi- 
ble, if not more reputable. Even in Rome it is scarcely 
credible that the Clodius of Cicero could have played such 
a part, or that the death of such a man should have been 
regarded as a national calamity. Cicero says that Clodius 
revived Catiline's faction; but what was Catiline's faction? 
or how came Catiline to have a faction which survived 

Be this as it may, Clodius had banished Cicero, and had 
driven him away over the seas to Greece, there, for sixteen 
months, to weary Heaven and his friends with his lamen- 
tations. Cicero had refused Caesar's offered friendship; 
Caesar had not cared to leave so powerful a person free to 
support the intended attacks on his legislation, and had 
permitted, perhaps had encouraged, the prosecution. 

206 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 57 

Cicero out of the way, the second person whose presence 
in Rome Caesar thought might be inconvenient, Marcus 
Cato, had been got rid of by a process still more ingenious. 
The aristocracy pretended that the acts of Caesar's consul- 
ship had been invalid through disregard of the interdic- 
tions of Bibulus; and one of those acts had been the re- 
duction of Clodius to the order of plebeians. If none of 
them were valid, Clodius was not legally tribune, and no 
commission which Clodius might confer through the people 
would have validity. A service was discovered by which 
Cato was tempted, and which he was induced to accept at 
Clodius's hands. Thus he was at once removed from the 
city, and it was no longer open to him to deny that Caesar's 
laws had been properly passed. The work on which he 
was sent deserves a few words. The kingdom of Cyprus 
had long been attached to the crown of Egypt. Ptolemy 
Alexander, dying in the year 80, had bequeathed both 
Egypt and Cyprus to Rome; but the Senate had delayed to 
enter on their bequest, preferring to share the fines which 
Ptolemy's natural heirs were required to pay for being 
spared. One of these heirs, Ptolemy Auletes, or " the 
Piper," father of the famous Cleopatra, was now reigning 
in Egypt, and was on the point of being expelled by his 
subjects. He had been driven to extortion to raise a sub- 
sidy for the senators, and he had made himself universally 
abhorred. Ptolemy of Cyprus had been a better sover- 
eign, but a less prudent client. He had not overtaxed his 
people; he had kept his money. Clodius, if Cicero's story 
is true, had a private grudge against him. Clodius had 
fallen among Cyprian pirates. Ptolemy had not exerted 
himself for his release, and he had suffered unmentionable 
indignities. At all events, the unfortunate king was rich, 
and was unwilling to give what was expected of him. 
Clodius, on the plea that the king of Cyprus protected 
pirates, persuaded the Assembly to vote the annexation of 
the island; and Cato, of all men, was prevailed on by the 
mocking tribune to carry out the resolution. He was well 
pleased with his mission, though he wished it to appear to 

b. c. 57] CLODIUS AND TRIBUNE 207 

be forced upon him. Ptolemy poisoned himself; Cato 
earned the glory of adding a new province to the Empire, 
and did not return for two years, when he brought 7000 
talents — a million and a half of English money — to the 
Roman treasury. 

Cicero and Cato being thus put out of the way — Caesar 
being absent in Gaul, and Pompey looking on without 
interfering — Clodius had amused himself with legislation. 
He gratified his corrupt friends in the Senate by again 
abolishing the censor's power to expel them. He restored 
cheap corn establishments in the city — the most demoral- 
izing of all the measures which the democracy had intro- 
duced to swell their nuLibers. He re-established the 
political clubs, which were hot-beds of distinctive Radical- 
ism. He took away the right of separate magistrates to lay 
their vetos on the votes of the sovereign people, and he took 
from the Senate such power as they still possessed of regu- 
lating the government of the Provinces, and passed it over 
to the Assembly. These resolutions, which reduced the ad- 
ministration to a chaos, he induced the people to decree by 
irresistible majorities. One measure only he passed which 
deserved commendation, though Clodius deserved none 
for introducing it. He put an end to the impious pretence 
of " observing the heavens," of which Conservative officials 
had availed themselves to obstruct unwelcome motions. 
Some means were, no doubt, necessary to check the pre- 
cipitate passions of the mob; but not means which turned 
into mockery the slight surviving remnants of ancient Ro- 
man reverence. 

In general politics the young tribune had no definite 
predilections. He had threatened at one time to repeal 
Caesar's laws himself. He attacked alternately the chiefs 
of the army and of the Senate, and the people let him do 
what he pleased without withdrawing their confidence 
from him. He went everywhere spreading terror with his 
body-guard of slaves. He quarrelled with the consuls, 
beat their lictors, and wounded Gabinius himself. Pom- 
pey professed to be in alarm for his life, and to be unable 

208 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 57 

to appear in the streets. The state of Rome at this time 
has been well described by a modern historian as a " Wal- 
purgis dance of political witches." 3 

Clodius was a licensed libertine; but license has its limits. 
He had been useful so far; but a rein was wanted for him, 
and Pompey decided at last that Cicero might now be re- 
called. Clodius's term of office ran out. The tribunes 
for the new year were well disposed to Cicero. The new 
consuls were Lentulus, a moderate aristocrat, and Cicero's 
personal friend; and Metellus Nepos, who would do what 
Pompey told him. Caesar had been consulted by letter 
and had given his assent. Cicero, it might be thought, 
had learnt his lesson, and there was no desire of protracting 
his penance. There were still difficulties, however. Cicero, 
smarting from wrath and mortification, was more angry 
with the aristocrats, who had deserted him, than with his 
open enemies. His most intimate companions, he bitterly 
said, had been false to him. He was looking regretfully 
on Caesar's offers, 4 and cursing his folly for having rejected 
them. The people, too, would not sacrifice their convictions 
at the first bidding for the convenience of their leaders; and 
had neither forgotten nor forgiven the killing of the Cati- 
line conspirators; while Cicero, aware of the efforts which 
were being made, had looked for new allies in an impru- 
dent quarter. His chosen friend on the Conservative side 
was now Annius Milo, one of the new tribunes, a man as 
disreputable as Clodius himself; deep in debt and looking 
for a province to indemnify himself — famous hitherto in 
the schools of gladiators, in whose arts he was a profi- 
cient, and whose services were at his disposal for any law- 
less purpose. 

A decree of banishment could only be recalled by the 
people who had pronounced it. Clodius, though no longer 
in office, was still the idol of the mob; and two of the trib- 
unes, who were at first well inclined to Cicero, had been 
gained over by him. As early as possible, on the first day 
of the new year, Lentulus Spinther brought Cicero's case 
before the Senate. A tribune reminded him of a clause 

B. c. 57] FIGHT IN THE FORUM 200. 

attached to the sentence of exile, that no citizen should in 
future move for its repeal. The Senate hesitated, per- 
haps catching at the excuse; but at length, after repeated 
adjournments, they voted that the question should be pro- 
posed to the Assembly. The day fixed was the 25th of 
January. In anticipation of a riot the temples on the 
Forum were occupied with guards. The Forum itself and 
the Senate-house were in possession of Clodius and his 
gang. Clodius maintained that the proposal to be sub- 
mitted to the people was itself illegal, and ought to be 
resisted by force. Fabricius, one of the tribunes, had been 
selected to introduce it. Y r h en Fabricius presented him- 
self on the Rostra, there was a general rush to throw him 
down. The Forum was in theory still a sacred spot, where 
the carrying of arms was forbidden; but the new age had 
forgotten such obsolete superstitions. The guards issued 
out of the temples with drawn swords. The people were 
desperate and determined. Hundreds were killed on both 
sides; Quintus Cicero, who was present for his brother, 
narrowly escaping with his life. The Tiber, Cicero says — 
perhaps with some exaggeration — was covered with float- 
ing bodies; the sewers were choked, the bloody area of the 
Forum had to be washed with sponges. Such a day had 
not been seen in Rome since the fight between Cinna and 
Octavius. 5 The mob remained masters of the field, and 
Cicero's cause had to wait for better times. Milo had been 
active in the combat, and Clodius led his victorious bands 
to Milo's house to destroy it. Milo brought an action 
against him for violence; but Clodius was charmed even 
against forms of law. There was no censor as yet chosen, 
and without a censor the praetors pretended that they could 
not entertain the prosecution. Finding law powerless, Milo 
imitated his antagonist. He, too, had his band of gladia- 
tors about him; and the streets of the Capitol were enter- 
tained daily by fights between the factions of Clodius and 
Milo. The Commonwealth of the Scipios, the laws and in- 
stitutions of the mistress of the civilized world, had become 
the football of ruffians. Time and reflection brought some 

2IO JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 57 

repentance at last. Toward the summer " the cause of 
order " rallied. The consuls and Pompey exerted them- 
selves to reconcile the more respectable citizens to Cicero's 
return; and, with the ground better prepared, the attempt 
was renewed with more success. In July the recall was 
again proposed in the Senate, and Clodius was alone in 
opposing it. When it was laid before the Assembly, 
Clodius made another effort; but voters had been brought 
up from other parts of Italy who outnumbered the city 
rabble; Milo and his gladiators were in force to prevent 
another burst of violence; and the great orator and states- 
man was given back to his country. Sixteen months he 
had been lamenting himself in Greece, bewailing his per- 
sonal ill-treatment. He was the single object of his own 
reflections. In his own most sincere convictions he was 
the centre on which the destinies of Rome revolved. He 
landed at Brindisi on the 5th of August. His pardon had 
not yet been decreed, though he knew that it was coming. 
The happy news arrived in a day or two, and he set out in 
triumph for Rome. The citizens of Brindisi paid him their 
compliments; deputations came to congratulate from all 
parts of Italy. Outside the city every man of note of all 
the orders, save a few of his declared enemies, was waiting 
to receive him. The roofs and steps of the temples were 
thronged with spectators. Crowds attended him to the 
Capitol, where he went to pour out his gratitude to the 
gods, and welcomed him home with shouts of applause. 

Had he been wise he would have seen that the rejoicing 
was from the lips outwards; that fine words were not gold; 
that Rome and its factions were just where he had left 
them, or had descended one step lower. But Cicero was 
credulous of flattery when it echoed his own opinions about 
himself. The citizens, he persuaded himself, were penitent 
for their ingratitude to the most illustrious of their coun- 
trymen. The acclamations filled him with the delighted 
belief that he was to resume his place at the head of the 
State; and, as he could not forgive his disgrace, his first 
object in the midst of his triumphs was to revenge himself 


on those who had caused it. Speeches of acknowledg- 
ment he had naturally to make both to the Senate and the 
Assembly. In addressing the people he was moderately 
prudent; he glanced at the treachery of his friends, but he 
did not make too much of it. He praised his own good 
qualities, but not extravagantly. He described Pompey 
as " the wisest, best, and greatest of all men that had been, 
were, or ever would be." Himself he compared to Marius 
returning also from undeserved exile, and he delicately 
spoke in honour of a name most dear to the Roman plebs. 
But he, he said, unlike Marius, had no enemies but the 
enemies of his country. , T ie had no retaliation to demand 
for his own wrongs. If he punished bad citizens, it would 
be by doing well himself; if he punished false friends, it 
would be by never again trusting them. His first and his 
last object would be to show his gratitude to his fellow- 
citizens. 6 

Such language was rational and moderate. He under- 
stood his audience, and he kept his tongue under a bridle. 
But his heart was burning in him; and what he could not 
say in the Forum he thought he might venture on with im- 
punity in the Senate, which might be called his own dung- 
hill. His chief wrath was at the late consuls. They were 
both powerful men. Gabinius was Pompey's chief sup- 
porter. Calpurnius Piso was Caesar's father-in-law. Both 
had been named to the government of important prov- 
inces; and, if authority was not to be brought into con- 
tempt, they deserved at least a show of outward respect. 
Cicero lived to desire their friendship, to affect a value for 
them, and to regret his violence, but they had consented 
to his exile; and careless of decency, and oblivious of the 
chances of the future, he used his opportunity to burst out 
upon them in language in which the foulest ruffian in the 
streets would have scarcely spoken of the first magistrates 
of the Republic. Piso and Gabinius, he said, were thieves, 
not consuls. They had been friends of Catiline, and had 
been enemies to himself, because he had baffled the con- 
spiracy. Piso could not pardon the death of Cethegus. 

212 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 57 

Gabinius regretted in Catiline himself the loss of his lover. 7 
Gabinius, he said, had been licentious in his youth; he had 
ruined his fortune; he had supplied his extravagance by 
pimping; and had escaped his creditors only by becoming 
a tribune. " Behold him," Cicero said, " as he appeared 
when consul at a meeting called by the arch thief Clodius, 
full of wine, and sleep, and fornication, his hair moist, his 
eyes heavy, his cheeks flaccid, and declaring, with a voice 
thick with drink, that he disapproved of putting citizens 
to death without trial." 8 As to Piso, his best recommenda- 
tion was a cunning gravity of demeanour, concealing mere 
vacuity. Piso knew nothing — neither law, nor rhetoric, 
nor war, nor his fellow men. " His face was the face of 
some half-human brute." " He was like a negro, a thing 
(negotium) without sense or savour, a Cappadocian picked 
out of a drove in the slave market." 9 

Cicero was not taking the best means to regain his in- 
fluence in the Senate by stooping to vulgar brutality. He 
cannot be excused by the manners of the age; his violence 
was the violence of a fluent orator whose temper ran away 
with him, and who never resisted the temptation to insult 
an opponent. It did not answer with him; he thought he 
was to be chief of the Senate, and the most honoured per- 
son in the State again; he found that he had been allowed 
to return only to be surrounded by mosquitos whose de- 
light was to sting him, while the Senate listened with in- 
difference or secret amusement. He had been promised 
the restoration of his property; but he had a suit to prose- 
cute before he could get it. Clodius had thought to make 
sure of his Roman palace, by dedicating it to " Liberty." 
Cicero challenged the consecration. It was referred to 
the College of Priests, and the College returned a judg- 
ment in Cicero's favour. The Senate voted for the res- 
toration. They voted sums for the rebuilding both of the 
palace on the Palatine Hill and of the other villas, at the 
public expense. But the grant in Cicero's opinion was a 
stingy one. He saw too painfully that those " who had 
clipped his wings did not mean them to grow again." 10 


Milo and his gladiators were not sufficient support, and if 
he meant to recover his old power he found that he must 
look for stronger allies. Pompey had not used him well; 
Pompey had promised to defend him from Clodius, and 
Pompey had left him to his fate. But by going with Pom- 
pey he could at least gall the Senate. An opportunity 
offered, and he caught at it. There was a corn famine in 
Rome. Clodius had promised the people cheap bread, 
but there was no bread to be had. The hungry mob 
howled about the Senate-house, threatening fire and mas- 
sacre. The great capitalists and contractors were believed 
to be at their old work There was a cry, as in the 
"pirate " days, for some strong man to see to them and 
their misdoings. Pompey was needed again. He had 
been too much forgotten, and with Cicero's help a decree 
was carried which gave Pompey control over the whole 
corn trade of the Empire for five years. 

This was something, and Pompey was gratified; but 
without an army Pompey could do little against the roughs 
in the streets, and Cicero's house became the next battle- 
ground. The Senate had voted it to its owner again, and 
the masons and carpenters were set to work; but the sov- 
ereign p:ople had not been consulted. Clodius was now 
but a private citizen; but private citizens might resist sac- 
rilege if the magistrates forgot their duty. He marched 
to the Palatine with his gang. He drove out the work- 
men, broke down the walls, and wrecked the adjoining 
house which belonged to Cicero's brother Quintus. The 
next day he set on Cicero himself in the Via Sacra, and 
nearly murdered him, and he afterwards tried to burn the 
house of Milo. Consuls and tribunes did not interfere. 
They were, perhaps, frightened. The Senate professed re- 
gret, and it was proposed to prosecute Clodius; but his 
friends were too strong, and it could not be done. Could 
Cicero have wrung his neck, as he had wrung the necks of 
Lentulus and Cethegus, Rome and he would have had a 
good deliverance. Failing this, he might wisely have 
waited for the law, which in time must have helped him. 

214 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 57 

But he let himself down to Clodius's level. He railed at 
him in the Curia as he had railed at Gabinius and Piso. 
He ran over his history; he taunted him with incest with 
his sister, and with filthy relations with vulgar millionaires. 
He accused him of having sold himself to Catiline, of hav- 
ing forged wills, murdered the heirs of estates and stolen 
their property, of having murdered officers of the Treasury 
and seized the public money, of having outraged gods and 
men, decency, equity, and law; of having suffered every 
abomination and committed every crime of which human 
nature was capable. So Cicero spoke in Clodius's own 
hearing and in the hearing of his friends. It never occurred 
to him that if half these crimes could be proved, a Com- 
monwealth in which such a monster could rise to conse- 
quence was not a Commonwealth at all, but a frightful 
mockery, which he and every honest man were called on to 
abhor. Instead of scolding and flinging impotent filth, 
he should have withdrawn out of public life when he 
could only remain in it among such companions, or should 
have attached himself with all his soul to those who had 
will and power to mend it. 

Clodius was at this moment the popular candidate for 
the sedileship, the second step on the road to the consul- 
ship. He was a favourite of the mob. He was supported 
by his brother Appius Claudius, the praetor, and the cli- 
entele of the great Claudian family; and Cicero's denuncia- 
tions of him had not affected in the least his chances of 
success. If Clodius was to be defeated, other means were 
needed than a statement in the Senate that the aspirant to 
public honours was a wretch unfit to live. The election 
was fixed for the 18th of November, and was to be held in 
the Campus Martius. Milo and his gladiators took pos- 
session of the polling-place in the night, and the votes 
could not be taken. The Assembly met the next day in 
the Forum, but was broken up by violence, and Clodius 
had still to wait. The political witch dance was at its 
height, and Cicero was in his glory. " The elections," he 
wrote to Atticus, "will not, I think, be held; and Clodius 

B. c. 57] PTOLEMY AULETES 21 5 

will be prosecuted by Milo unless he is first killed. Milo 
will kill him if he falls in with him. He is not afraid to 
do it, and he says openly that he will do it. He is not 
frightened at the misfortune which fell on me. He is not 
the man to listen to traitorous friends or to trust indolent 
patricians. ,, 1X 

With recovered spirits the Senate began again to attack 
the laws of Caesar and Clodius as irregular; but they were 
met with the difficulty which Clodius had provided. Cato 
had come back from Cyprus, delighted with his exploit 
and with himself, and bringing a ship-load of money with 
him for the public treasury. If the laws were invalidated 
by the disregard of Bibulus and the signs of the sky, then 
the Cyprus mission had been invalid also, and Cato's fine 
performance void. Caesar's grand victories, the news of 
which was now coming in, made it inopportune to press 
the matter farther; and just then another subject rose, on 
which the Optimates ran off like hounds upon a fresh 

Ptolemy of Cyprus had been disposed of. Ptolemy 
Auletes had been preserved on the throne of Egypt by sub- 
sidies to the chiefs of the Senate. But his subjects had 
been hardly taxed to raise the money. The Cyprus affair 
had further exasperated them, and when Ptolemy laid on 
fresh impositions the Alexandrians mutinied and drove him 
out. His misfortunes being due to his friends at Rome, 
he came thither to beg the Romans to replace him. The 
Senate agreed unanimously that he must be restored to 
his throne. But then the question rose, who should be the 
happy person who was to be the instrument of his rein- 
statement? Alexandria was rich. An enormous fine 
could be exacted for the rebellion, besides what might be 
demanded from Ptolemy's gratitude. No prize so splen- 
did had yet been offered to Roman avarice, and the pa- 
tricians quarrelled over it like jackals over a bone. Len- 
tulus Spinther, the late consul, was now governor of 
Cilicia; Gabinius was governor of Syria; and each of these 
had their advocates. Cicero and the respectable Conserva- 

2l6 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 57 

tives were for Spinther; Pompey was for Gabinius. Others 
wished Pompey himself to go; others wished for 

Meanwhile, the poor Egyptians themselves claimed a 
right to be heard in protest against the reimposition upon 
them of a sovereign who had made himself abhorred. 
Why was Ptolemy to be forced on them? A hundred of 
the principal Alexandrians came to Italy with a remon- 
strance; and had they brought money with them they 
might have had a respectable hearing. But they had 
brought none or not enough, and Ptolemy, secure in his 
patrons' support, hired a party of banditti, who set on the 
deputation when it landed, and killed the greater part of 
its members. Dion, the leader of the embassy, escaped for 
a time. There was still a small party among the aristoc- 
racy (Cato and Cato's followers) who had a conscience in 
such things; and Favonius, one of them, took up Dion's 
cause. Envoys from allied sovereigns or provinces, he 
said, were continually being murdered. Noble lords re- 
ceived hush-money, and there had been no inquiry. Such 
things happened too often, and ought to be stopped. The 
Senate voted decently to send for Dion and examine him. 
But Favonius was privately laughed at as " Cato's ape "; 
the unfortunate Dion was made away with, and Pompey 
took Ptolemy into his own house and openly entertained 
him there. Pompey would himself perhaps have under- 
taken the restoration, but the Senate was jealous. His 
own future was growing uncertain; and eventually, with- 
out asking for a consent which the Senate would have re- 
fused to give, he sent his guest to Syria with a charge to his 
friend Gabinius to take him back on his own responsi- 
bility. 12 

The killing of envoys and the taking of hush-money by 
senators were, as Favonius had said, too common to at- 
tract much notice; but the affair of Ptolemy, like that of 
Jugurtha, had obtained an infamous notoriety. The Sen- 
ate was execrated. Pompey himself fell in public esteem. 
His overseership of the granaries had as yet brought in 


no corn. He had been too busy over the Egyptian mat- 
ter to attend to it. Clearly enough there would now have 
been a revolution in Rome, but for the physical force of the 
upper classes with their bands of slaves and clients. 

The year of Milo's tribunate being over, Clodius was 
chosen aedile without further trouble; and, instead of being 
the victim of a prosecution, he at once impeached Milo for 
the interruption of the Comitia on the 18th of November. 
Milo appeared to answer on the 2d of February; but there 
was another riot, and the meeting was broken up. On the 
6th the court was again held. The crowd was enormous. 
Cicero happily has left a minute account of the scene. The 
people were starving, the corn question was pressing. 
Milo presented himself, and Pompey came forward on the 
Rostra to speak. He was received with howls and curses 
from Clodius's hired ruffians, and his voice could not be 
heard for the noise. Pompey held on undaunted, and 
commanded occasional silence by the weight of his pres- 
ence. Clodius rose when Pompey had done, and rival 
yells went up from the Milonians. Yells were not enough; 
filthy verses were sung in chorus about Clodius and Clodia, 
ribald bestiality, delightful to the ears of " Tully." Clo- 
dius, pale with anger, called out, " Who is murdering the 
people with famine? ' A thousand throats answered, 
" Pompey !" "Who wants to go to Alexandria?" 
"Pompey!" they shouted again. "And whom do you 
want to go? ,; " Crassus! ' they cried. Passion had 
risen too high for words. The Clodians began to spit on 
the Milonians. The Milonians drew swords and cut the 
heads of the Clodians. The workingmen, being unarmed, 
got the worst of the conflict; and Clodius was flung from 
the Rostra. The Senate was summoned to call Pompey 
to account. Cicero went off home, wishing to defend 
Pompey, but wishing also not to offend the " good " party, 
who were clamorous against him. That evening nothing 
could be done. Two days after, the Senate met again; 
Cato abused Pompey, and praised Cicero much against 
Cicero's will, who was anxious to stand well with Pompey. 

2l8 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 56 

Pompey accused Cato and Crassus of a conspiracy to mur- 
der him. In fact, as Cicero said, Pompey had just then 
no friend in any party. The mob was estranged from him, 
the noble lords hated him, the Senate did not like him, the 
patrician youth insulted him, and he was driven to bring 
up friends from the country to protect his life. All sides 
were mustering their forces in view of an impending 
fight. 13 

It would be wasted labour to trace minutely the particu- 
lars of so miserable a scene, or the motives of the princi- 
pal actors in it — Pompey, bound to Caesar by engagement 
and conviction, yet jealous of his growing fame, without 
political conviction of his own, and only conscious that his 
weight in the State no longer corresponded to his own esti- 
mate of his merits — Clodius at the head of the starving 
mob, representing mere anarchy, and nourishing an im- 
placable hate against Cicero- — Cicero, anxious for his own 
safety, knowing now that he had made enemies of half the 
Senate, watching how the balance of factions would go, 
and dimly conscious that the sword would have to decide 
it, clinging, therefore, to Pompey, whose military abilities 
his civilian ignorance considered supereminent — Cato, a 
virtuous fanatic, narrow, passionate, with a vein of van- 
ity, regarding all ways as wrong but his own, and think- 
ing all men who would not walk as he prescribed wicked 
as well as mistaken — the rest of the aristocracy scuffling 
for the plunder of Egypt, or engaged in other enterprises 
not more creditable — the streets given over to the fac- 
tions — the elections the alternate prize of bribery or vio- 
lence, and consulates and prsetorships falling to men more 
than half of whom, if Cicero can be but moderately be- 
lieved, deserved to be crucified. Cicero's main affection 
was for Titus Annius Milo, to whom he clung as a woman 
will cling to a man whose strength she hopes will support 
her weakness. Milo, at least, would revenge his wrongs 
upon Clodius. Clodius, Cicero said even in the Senate, 
was Milo's predestined victim. 14 Titus Annius knew how 
an armed citizen who burnt temples and honest men's 


houses ought to be dealt with. Titus Annius was born to 
extinguish that pest of the Commonwealth. 14 

Still smarting over his exile, Cicero went one day with 
Milo and his gladiators to the Capitol when Clodius was 
absent, and carried off the brass tablet on which the de- 
cree of his exile had been engraved. It was some solace 
to his poor vanity to destroy the record of his misfortune. 
But it was in vain. All was going wrong. Caesar's grow- 
ing glories came thick to trouble his peace. He, after all, 
then, was not to be the greatest man in Rome. How 
would these splendid successes affect parties? How would 
they affect Pompey? How would they affect the Sen- 
ate? What should he do himself? 

The Senate distrusted him; the people distrusted him. 
In his perplexity he tried to rouse the aristocracy to a sense 
of their danger, and hinted that his was the name which 
yet might save them. 

Sextius, who had been a tribune with Milo in the past 
year, was under prosecution for one of the innumerable 
acts of violence which had disgraced the city. Cicero de- 
fended him, and spoke at length on the state of affairs as 
he wished the world to believe that he regarded it. 

" In the Commonwealth," he said, " there have always 
been two parties — the populares and the optimates. The 
populares say and do what will please the mob. The 
optimates say and do what will please the best men. And 
who are the best men? They are of all ranks and infinite 
in number — senators, municipals, farmers, men of business, 
even libertini. The type is distinct. They are the well- 
to-do, the sound, the honest, who do no wrong to any 
man. The object at which they aim is quiet with honour. 15 
They are the Conservatives of the State. Religion and 
good government, the Senate's authority, the laws and 
customs of our ancestors, public faith, integrity, sound ad- 
ministration — these are the principles on which they rest, 
and these they will maintain with their lives. Their path 
is perilous. The foes of the State are stronger than its de- 
fenders; they are bold and desperate, and go with a will 

220 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 56 

to the work of destruction; while the good, I know not 
why, are languid, and will not rouse themselves unless 
compelled. They would have quiet without honour, and 
so lose both quiet and honour. Some are triflers, some 
are timid, only a few stand firm. But it is not now as it 
was in the days of the Gracchi. There have been great 
reforms. The people are conservative at heart; the dema- 
gogues cannot rouse them, and are forced to pack the As- 
sembly with hired gangs. Take away these gangs, stop 
corruption at the elections, and we shall be all of one mind. 
The people will be on our side. The citizens of Rome are 
not populares. They hate the populares, and prefer hon- 
ourable men. How did they weep in the theatres where 
they heard the news that I was exiled! How did they 
cheer my name! ' Tully, the preserver of our liberties!' 
was repeated a thousand times. Attend to me," he said, 
turning paternally to the high-born youths who were lis- 
tening to him, " attend to me when I bid you walk in the 
ways of our forefathers. Would you have praise and 
honour, would you have the esteem of the wise and good, 
value the constitution under which you live. Our ances- 
tors, impatient of kings, appointed annual magistrates, and 
for the administration they nominated a Senate chosen 
from the whole people into which the road is open for the 
poorest citizen." 16 

So Cicero, trying to persuade others, and perhaps half 
persuading himself, that all might yet be well, and that the 
Roman Constitution would roll on upon its old lines in 
the face of the scandal of Ptolemy and the greater scandals 
of Clodius and Milo. 

Cicero might make speeches; but events followed their 
inexorable course. The patricians had forgotten nothing 
and had learnt nothing. The Senate had voted thanks- 
giving for Caesar's victories; but in their hearts they hated 
him more for them, because they feared him more. Milo 
and his gladiators gave them courage. The bitterest of 
the aristocrats, Domitius Ahenobarbus, Cato's brother-in- 
law and praetor for the year, was a candidate for the con- 


sulship. His enormous wealth made his success almost 
certain, and he announced in the Senate that he meant to 
recall Caesar and repeal his laws. In April a motion was 
introduced in the Senate to revise Caesar's Land Act. Sus- 
picions had gone abroad that Cicero believed Caesar's star 
to be in the ascendant, and that he was again wavering. 
To clear himself he spoke as passionately as Domitius 
could himself have wished, and declared that he honoured 
more the resistance of Bibulus than all the triumphs in the 
world. It was time to come to an end with these gentle- 
men. Pompey was deeply committed to Caesar's agrarian 
law, for it had been passed orimarily to provide for his 
own disbanded soldiers. EL was the only man in Rome 
who retained any real authority; and touched, as for a 
moment he might have been, with jealousy, he felt that 
honour, duty, every principle of prudence or patriotism, re- 
quired him at so perilous a crisis to give Caesar his firm sup- 
port. Clodius was made in some way to understand that, 
if he intended to retain his influence, he must conform to 
the wishes of the army. His brother, Appius, crossed the 
Alps to see Caesar himself; and Caesar, after the troops 
were in their winter quarters, came over to the north of 
Italy. Here an interview was arranged between the chiefs 
of the popular party. The place of meeting was Lucca, 
on the frontier of Caesar's province. Pompey, who had 
gone upon a tour along the coast and through the Medi- 
terranean islands on his corn business, attended without 
concealment or mystery. Crassus was present, and more 
than a hundred senators. The talking power of the State 
was in Rome. The practical and real power was in the 
Lucca conference. Pompey, Caesar, and Crassus were 
irresistible when heartily united, and a complete scheme 
was arranged between them for the government of the 
Empire. There was to be no Domitius Ahenobarbus for 
a consul, or aristocratic coups d'etat. Pompey and 
Crassus were to be consuls for the ensuing year. The 
consulship over, Pompey was to have Spain for a province 
for five years, with an adequate army. Crassus, who was 

222 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 56 

ambitious also of military distinction, was to have Syria. 
Caesar's command in Gaul was to be extended for five years 
further in addition to his present term. The consent of 
the Assembly was to be secured, if difficulty arose, by the 
votes of the army. The elections being in the winter, 
Caesar's soldiers were to be allowed to go to Rome on fur- 

In a personal interview Caesar easily asserted his ascend- 
ency. Pompey allowed himself to be guided, and the ar- 
rangement was probably dictated by Caesar's own pru- 
dence. He did not mean to leave Gaul half conquered, to 
see his work undone, and himself made into a plaything 
by men who had incited Ariovistus to destroy him. The 
senators who were present at Lucca implied by their co- 
operation that they too were weary of anarchy, and would 
sustain the army in a remodelling of the State if milder 
measures failed. 

Thus, for the moment, Domitius and Cato were baffled. 
Domitius was not to be consul. Caesar was not to be re- 
called, or his laws repealed. There was no hope for them 
or for the reaction, till Pompey and Caesar could be di- 
vided; and their alliance was closer now than ever. The 
aristocratic party could but chafe in impotent rage. The 
effect on Cicero was curious. He had expected that the 
Conservative movement would succeed, and he had hu- 
miliated himself before the Senate, in the idle hope of win- 
ning back their favour. The conference at Lucca opened 
his eyes. For a time at least he perceived that Caesar's 
was the winning side, and he excused himself for going 
over to it by laying the blame on the Senate's folly and in- 
gratitude to himself. Some private correspondence pre- 
ceded his change of sides. He consulted Atticus, and had 
received characteristic and cautious advice from him. He 
described in reply his internal struggles, the resolution at 
which he had arrived, and the conclusion which he had 
formed upon his own past conduct. 

" I am chewing what I have to swallow," he said. 
" Recantation does not seem very creditable; but adieu 


to straightforward, honest counsels. You would not be- 
lieve the perfidy of these chiefs; as they wish to be, and 
what they might be if they had any faith in them. I had 
felt, I had known, that I was being led on by them, and 
then deserted and cast off; and yet I thought of making 
common cause with them. They were the same which 
they had always been. You made me see the truth at last. 
You will say you warned me. You advised what I should 
do, and you told me not to write to Caesar. By Hercules! 
I wished to put myself in a position where I should be 
obliged to enter into this new coalition, and where it would 
not be possible for me, even if I desired it, to go with those 
who ought to pity me, and, nstead of pity, give me grudg- 
ing and envy. I have been moderate in what I have writ- 
ten. I shall be more full if Caesar meets me graciously; 
and then those gentlemen who are so jealous that I have a 
decent house to live in will make a wry face. . . Enough 
of this. Since those who have no power will not be my 
friends, I must endeavour to make friends with those who 
have. You will say you wished this long ago. I know 
that you wished it, and that I have been a mere ass; 17 
but it is time for me to be loved by myself, since I can get 
no love for them." 18 

Pompey, after leaving Lucca, sent Cicero a message, 
through his brother, complaining of his speech on the 
Land Act, but assuring him of his own and Caesar's friend- 
ship if he would be true to them. In an apologetic letter 
to Lentulus Spinther, Cicero explained and justified what 
he meant to do. 

" Pompey," he said, " did not let me know that he was 
offended. He went off to Sardinia, and on his way saw 
Caesar at Lucca. Caesar was angry with me; he had seen 
Crassus, and Crassus had prejudiced him. Pompey, too, 
was himself displeased. He met my brother a few days 
after, and told him to use his influence with me. He re- 
minded him of his exertions in my behalf; he swore that 
those exertions had been made with Caesar's consent, and 
he begged particularly that, if I could not support Caesar, 

224 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 56 

I would not go against him. I reflected. I debated the 
matter as if with the Commonwealth. I had suffered 
much and done much for the Commonwealth. I had now 
to think of myself. I had been a good citizen; I must now 
be a good man. Expressions came round to me that had 
been used by certain persons whom even you do not like. 
They were delighted to think that I had offended Pompey, 
and had made Caesar my mortal enemy. This was annoy- 
ing enough. But the same persons embraced and kissed 
even in my presence. my worst foe — the foe of law, order, 
peace, country, and every good man. 19 . . . They meant 
to irritate me, but I had not spirit to be angry. I sur- 
veyed my situation. I cast up my accounts, and I came 
to a conclusion, which was briefly this. If the State was 
in the hands of bad men, as in my time I have known it 
to be, I would not join them though they loaded me with 
favours; but when the first person in the Commonwealth 
was Pompey, whose services had been so eminent, whose 
advancement I had myself furthered, and who stood by me 
in my difficulties, I was not inconsistent if I modified some 
of my opinions, and conformed to the wishes of one who 
has deserved so well of me. If I went with Pompey, I 
must go with Caesar too; and here the old friendship came 
to bear between Caesar, my brother, and myself, as well 
as Caesar's kindness to me, of which I had seen evidence in 
word and deed. . . Public interest, too, moved me. A 
quarrel with these men would be most inexpedient, espe- 
cially after what Caesar has done. . . If the persons who 
assisted in bringing me back had been my friends after- 
wards, they would have recovered their power when they 
had me to help them. The ' good ' had gained heart 
when you were consul. Pompey was then won to the 
* good ' cause. Even Caesar, after being decorated by the 
Senate for his victories, might have been brought to a 
better judgment, and wicked citizens would have had no 
opening to make disturbances. But what happened? 
These very men protected Clodius, who cared no more for 
the Bona Dea than for the Three Sisters. They allowed 


my monument to be engraved with a hostile record. 20 
. . . The good party are not as you left them. Those 
who ought to have been staunch have fallen away. You 
see it in their faces. You see it in the words and votes 
of those whom we called 'optimates'; so that wise citi- 
zens, one of whom I wish to be and to be thought, must 
change their course. ' Persuade your countrymen, if 
you can/ said Plato; ' but use no violence.' Plato found 
that he could no longer persuade the Athenians, and there- 
fore he withdrew from public life. Advice could not move 
them, and he held force to be unlawful. My case was dif- 
ferent. I was not called on to undertake public responsi- 
bilities. I was content to farther my own interests, and 
to defend honest men's causes. Caesar's goodness to me 
and to my brother would have bound me to him whatever 
had been his fortunes. Now after so much glory and vic- 
tory I should speak nobly of him though I owe him 
nothing." 21 

Happy it would have been for Cicero, and happy for 
Rome, had he persevered in the course which he now 
seemed really to have chosen. Cicero and Caesar united 
might have restored the authority of the laws, punished 
corruption and misgovernment, made their country the 
mother as well as the mistress of the world; and the Re- 
public, modified to suit the change of times, might have 
survived for many generations. But under such a modifi- 
cation Cicero would have no longer been the first person 
in the Commonwealth. The talkers would have ceased to 
rule, and Cicero was a talker only. He could not bear to 
be subordinate. He was persuaded that he, and not 
Caesar, was the world's real great man; and so he held on, 
leaning now to one faction and now to another, waiting for 
the chance which was to put him at last in his true place. 
For the moment, however, he saved himself from the 
degradation into which the Senate precipitated itself. The 
arrangements at Lucca were the work of the army. The 
Conservative majority refused to let the army dictate to 
them. Domitius intended still to be consul, let the army 

226 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 56 

say what it pleased. Pompey and Crassus returned to 
Rome for the elections; the consuls for the year, Marcel- 
linus and Philip, declined to take their names. The con- 
suls and the Senate appealed to the Assembly, the Senate 
marching into the Forum in state, as if calling on the 
genius of the nation to defend the outraged constitution. 
In vain. The people would not listen. The consuls were 
groaned down. No genius of Rome presided in those 
meetings, but the genius of revolution in the person of 
Clodius. The senators were driven back into the Curia, 
and Clodius followed them there. The officers forbade his 
entrance. Furious young aristocrats flew upon him, 
seized him, and would have murdered him in their rage. 
Clodius shrieked for help. His rascal followers rushed in 
with lighted torches, swearing to burn house and Senate 
if a hair of Clodius's head were hurt. They bore their idol 
off in triumph; and the wretched senators sat gazing at 
each other, or storming at Pompey, and inquiring scorn- 
fully if he and Crassus intended to appoint themselves con- 
suls. Pompey answered that they had no desire for office, 
but anarchy must be brought to an end. 

Still the consuls of the year stubbornly refused to take 
the names of the Lucca nominees. The year ran out, and 
no election had been held. In such a difficulty, the consti- 
tution had provided for the appointment of an Interrex 
till fresh consuls could be chosen. Pompey and Crassus 
were then nominated, with a foregone conclusion. Do- 
mitius still persisted in standing; and, had it been safe to try 
the usual methods, the patricians would have occupied the 
voting places as before with their retinues, and returned 
him by force. But young Publius Crassus was in Rome 
with thousands of Caesar's soldiers, who had come up to 
vote from the north of Italy. With these it was not safe 
to venture on a conflict, and the consulships fell as the 
Lucca conference had ordered. 

The consent of the Assembly to the other arrangements 
remained to be obtained. Caesar was to have five addi- 
tional years in Gaul; Pompey and Crassus were to have 


Spain and Syria, also for five years each, as soon as their 
year of office should be over. The defenders of the con- 
stitution fought to the last. Cato foamed on the Rostra. 
When the two hours allowed him to speak were expired, 
he refused to sit down, and was removed by a guard. The 
meeting was adjourned to the next day. Publius Gallus, 
another irreconcilable, passed the night in the Senate- 
house, that he might be in his place at dawn. Cato and 
Favonius were again at their posts. The familiar cry was 
raised that the signs of the sky were unfavourable. The 
excuse had ceased to be legal. The tribunes ordered the 
voting to go forward. The last resource was then tried. 
A riot began, but to no purpose. The aristocrats and their 
clients were beaten back, and the several commands were 
ratified. As the people were dispersing, their opponents 
rallied back, filled the Forum, and were voting Caesar's re- 
call, when Pompey came on them and swept them out. 
Gallus was carried off covered with blood; and, to prevent 
further questions, the vote for Caesar was taken a second 

The immediate future was thus assured. Time had been 
obtained for the completion of the work in Gaul. Pom- 
pey dedicated a new theatre, and delighted the mob with 
games and races. Five hundred lions were consumed in 
five days' combat. As a special novelty eighteen elephants 
were made to fight with soldiers; and, as a yet more ex- 
traordinary phenomenon, the sanguinary Roman specta- 
tors showed signs of compunction at their sufferings. The 
poor beasts were quiet and harmless. When wounded 
with the lances, they turned away, threw up their trunks, 
and trotted around the circus, crying, as if in protest 
against wanton cruelty. The story went that they were 
half human; that they had been seduced on board the 
African transports by a promise that they should not be 
ill-used, and they were supposed to be appealing to the 
gods. 22 Cicero alludes to the scene in a letter to one of 
his friends. Mentioning Pompey's exhibitions with evi- 
dent contempt, he adds: " There remained the hunts, 

228 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 55 

which lasted five days. All say that they were very fine. 
But what pleasure can a sensible person find in seeing a 
clumsy performer torn by a wild beast, or a noble animal 
pierced with a hunting spear? The last day was given to 
the elephants; not interesting to me, however delightful to 
the rabble. A certain pity was felt for them, as if the ele- 
phants had some affinity with man.' 

" 23 


1 Page 204. To Atticus, ii. 16. 

2 Page 204. " Conservatores Reipublicas. " — Pro Sextio. 

3 Page 208. Mommsen. 

4 Page 208. ' ' Omnia sunt mea culpa commissa, qui ab his me amari pu- 
tabam quiinvenebant: eos non sequebar qui petebant." — Ad Familiares, 
xiv. 1. 4 Nullum est meum peccatum nisi quod iis credidi a quibus nefas 
putabam esse me decipi. . . Intimus proximus familiarissimus quisque 
aut sibi pertimuit aut mihi invidit." — Ad Quintum Fratrem, i. 4. 

5 Page 209. " Meministis turn, judices, corporibus civium Tiberim 
compleri cloacas referciri, e foro spongiis effingi sanguinem. . . 
Csedem tantam, tantos acervos corporum extructos, nisi forte illo 
Cinnano atque Octaviano die, quis unquam in foro vidit?" — Oratio pro 
P. Sextio, xxxv. 36. 

6 Page an. Ad Quirites post Reditum. 
, Page 212. " Ejus vir Catilina." 

8 Page 212. " Cum inCirco Flaminionon a tribuno plebis consul in con- 
cionem sed a latrone archipirata productus esset, primum processit qua 
auctoritate vir. Vini, somni, stupri plenus, madenti coma, gravibus 
oculis, fluentibus bu^cis, pressa voce et temulenta, quod in cives in- 
demnatos esset animadversum, id sibi dixit gravis auctor vehementis- 
sime displicere." — Post Reditum in Senatu, 6. 

9 Page 212. Cicero could never leave Gabinius and Piso alone. Again 
and again he returned upon them railing like a fishwife. In his oration 
for Sextius he scoffed at Gabinius's pomatum and curled hair, and 
taunted him with unmentionable sins; but he specially entertained 
himself with his description of Piso: 

" For Piso! " he said: " oh, gods, how unwashed, how stern he looked 
— a pillar of antiquity, like one of the old bearded consuls; his dress 
plain plebeian purple, his hair tangled, his brow a very pledge for the 
commonwealth! Such solemnity in his eye, such wrinkling of his fore- 
head, that you would have said the State was resting on his head like 
the sky on Atlas. Here we thought we had a refuge. Here was the 
man to oppose the filth of Gabinius; his very face would be enough. 
People congratulated us on having one friend to save us from the trib- 
une. Alas! I was deceived," etc., etc. 

Piso afterward called Cicero to account in the Senate, and brought 


out a still more choice explosion of invectives. Beast, filth, polluted 
monster, and such like, were the lightest of the names which Cicero 
hurled back at one of the oldest members of the Roman aristocracy. 
A single specimen may serve to illustrate the cataract of nastiness 
which he poured alike on Piso and Clodius and Gabinius: " When all 
the good were hiding themselves in tears," he said to Piso, " when the 
temples were groaning and the very houses in the city were mourning 
(over my exile), you, heartless madman that you are, took up the cause 
of that pernicious animal, that clotted mass of incests and civil blood, 
of villainies intended and impurity of crimes committed (he was allud- 
ing to Clodius, who was in the Senate probably listening to him). 
Need I speak of your feasting, your laughter, and handshakings — your 
drunken orgies with the filthy companions of your potations ? Who in 
those days saw you ever sober, or doing anything that a citizen need 
not be ashamed of ? While your colleague's house was sounding with 
songs and cymbals, and he himsr .f was dancing naked at a supper- 
party (cumque ipse nudus in convivio saltaret), you, you coarse glutton, 
with less taste for music, were lying in a stew of Greek boys and wine 
in a feast of the Centaurs and Lapithae, where one cannot say whether 
you drank most, or vomited most, or spilt most." — In L. Pisonem, 10. 
The manners of the times do not excuse language of this kind, for there 
was probably not another member of the Senate who indulged in it. 
If Cicero was disliked and despised, he had his own tongue to thank 
for it. 

10 Page 212. To Atticus, iv. 2. 

11 Page 215. To Atticus, iv. 3. 

19 Page 216. For the details of this story see Dion Cassius, lib. xxxix. 
capp. 12-16. Compare Cicero ad Familiares, lib. i. Epist. 1-2. Curious 
subterranean influences seem to have been at work to save the Senate 
from the infamy of restoring Ptolemy. Verses were discovered in the 
Sibylline Books directing that if an Egyptian king came to Rome as a 
suppliant, he was to be entertained hospitably, but was to have no 
active help. Perhaps Cicero was concerned in this. 

13 Page 218. Ad Quintum Fratrem, ii. 3. 

14 Page 218. " Tito Anniodevota et constituta hostia esse videtur." — 
De Haruspicum responsis. 

15 Page 219. " Otium cum dignitate." 

16 Page 220. Abridged from the Oratio pro Sextio. 

11 Page 223. " Megermanum asinum fuisse." Perhaps " own brother 
to an ass " would be a more proper rendering. 

18 Page 223. To Atticus, iv. 5. 

19 Page 224. Clodius. 

20 Page 224. Here follows much about himself and his own merits. 

81 Page 225. To Lentulus Spinther, Ad Familiares, i. 9. The length 
of this remarkable letter obliges me to give but an imperfect summary 
of it. The letter itself should be studied carefully by those who would 
understand Cicero's conduct. 

22 Page 227. Dion Cassius. 

23 Page 228. Ad Familiares, vii. 1. 


WHILE Caesar was struggling with the Senate for 
leave to complete the conquest of Gaul, fresh 
work was preparing for him there. Young 
Publius Crassus, before he went to Italy, had wintered with 
the Seventh Legion in Brittany. The Breton tribes had 
nominally made their submission, and Crassus had desired 
them to supply his commissariat. They had given hos- 
tages for their good behaviour, and most of them were 
ready to obey. The Veneti, the most important of the 
coast clans, refused. They induced the rest to join them. 
They seized the Roman officers whom Crassus had sent 
among them, and they then offered to exchange their pris- 
oners for their countrymen whom the Romans held in 
pledge. The legions might be irresistible on land; but the 
Veneti believed that their position was impregnable to an 
attack on the land side. Their homes were on the Bay of 
Quiberon and on the creeks and estuaries between the 
mouth of the Loire and Brest. Their villages were built 
on promontories, cut off at high tide from the mainland, 
approachable only by water, and not by water except in 
shallow vessels of small draught which could be grounded 
safely on the mud. The population were sailors and fish- 
ermen. They were ingenious and industrious, and they 
carried on a considerable trade in the Bay of Biscay and in 
the British Channel. They had ships capable of facing 
the heavy seas which rolled in from the Atlantic, flat- 
bottomed, with high bow and stern, built solidly of oak, 
with timbers a foot thick, fastened with large iron nails. 
They had iron chains for cables. Their sails — either be- 
cause sailcloth was scarce, or because they thought canvas 
too weak for the strain of the winter storms — were manu- 
factured out of leather. Such vessels were unwieldy, but 


B. c. 56] THE VENETI 23 1 

had been found available for voyages even to Britain. 
Their crews were accustomed to handle them, and knew all 
the rocks and shoals and currents of the intricate and diffi- 
cult harbours. They looked on the Romans as mere 
landsmen, and naturally enough they supposed that they 
had as little to fear from an attack by water as from the 
shore. At the worst they could take to their ships and 
find a refuge in the islands. 

Crassus, when he went to Rome, carried the report to 
Caesar of the revolt of the Veneti, and Caesar felt that 
unless they were promptly punished all Gaul might be 
again in flame. They had broken faith. They had im- 
prisoned Roman officers who had gone on a peaceful mis- 
sion among them. It was necessary to teach a people so 
restless, so hardly conquered, and so impatient of foreign 
dominion that there was no situation which the Roman 
arm was unable to reach. 

While the Lucca conference was going on, a fleet of 
Roman galleys was built by his order in the Loire. Row- 
ers, seamen, and pilots were brought across from Mar- 
seilles; when the season was sufficiently advanced for 
active operations, Caesar came himself and rejoined his 
army. Titus Labienus was sent with three legions to 
Treves to check the Germans on the Rhine, and prevent 
disturbances among the Belgae. Titurius Sabinus, with 
three more, was stationed in Normandy. To Brittany 
Caesar went in person to reduce the rebellious Veneti. 
The weather was too unsettled for his fleet to be able as 
yet to join him. Without its help he found the problem 
as difficult as the Veneti expected. Each village required 
a siege; when it was reduced, the inhabitants took to their 
boats, and defied him again in a new position. Many 
weeks were thus fruitlessly wasted. The fine weather at 
length set in. The galleys from the Loire came out, ac- 
companied by others from Rochelle and the mouth of the 
Garonne. The command at sea was given to Decimus 
Brutus, a cousin of the afterward famous Marcus, a clever, 
able, and so far loyal officer. 

232 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 56 

The Veneti had collected every ship that they or their 
allies possessed to defend themselves. They had two hun- 
dred and twenty sail in all — a force, considering its char- 
acter, extremely formidable. Their vessels were too 
strong to be run down. The galleys carried turrets; but 
the bows and sterns of the Veneti were still too lofty to 
be reached effectively by the Roman javelins. The Ro- 
mans had the advantage in speed; but that was all. They 
too, however, had their ingenuities. They had studied 
the construction of the Breton ships. They had provided 
sickles with long handles, with which they proposed to 
catch the halliards which held the weight of the heavy 
leather sails. It was not difficult to do, if, as is probable, 
the halliards were made fast, not to the mast, but to the 
gunwale. Sweeping rapidly alongside they could easily 
cut them; the sails would fall, and the vessels would be 

A sea battle of this singular kind was thus fought off 
the eastern promontory of the Bay of Quiberon, Caesar 
and his army looking on from the shore. The sickles 
answered well; ship after ship was disabled; the galleys 
closed with them, and they were taken by boarding. The 
Veneti then tried to retreat; but a calm came on, and they 
could not move. The fight lasted from ten in the morn- 
ing till sunset, when the entire Breton fleet was taken or 

After this defeat the Veneti gave up the struggle. 
Their ships were all gone. Their best men were on board, 
and had been killed. They had no power of resistance 
left. Caesar was constitutionally lenient, and admired 
rather than resented a valiant fight for freedom. But the 
Veneti had been treacherous. They had laid hands on the 
sacred persons of Roman ambassadors, and he considered 
it expedient on this one occasion to use severity. The 
council who had contrived the insurrection were put to 
death. The rest of the tribe were treated as the Aduatuci 
had been, and were sold into slavery. 

Sabinus, meanwhile, had been in difficulties in Nor- 


mandy. The people there had risen and killed their chiefs, 
who tried to keep them quiet; vagabonds from other parts 
had joined them, and Sabinus, who wanted enterprise, 
allowed the disturbances to becpme dangerous. He 
ended them at last, however, successfully, and Csesar would 
not allow his caution to be blamed. During the same 
months Publius Crassus had made a brilliant campaign in 
Aquitaine. The Aquitani had not long before overthrown 
two Roman armies. Determined not to submit to Csesar, 
they had allied themselves with the Spaniards of the 
Pyrenees, and had officers among them who had been 
trained by Sertorius. Crassus stormed their camp with 
a skill and courage which cal 1 ed out Caesar's highest appro- 
bation, and completely subdued the whole country. 

In all France there now remained only a few unimpor- 
tant tribes on the coast between Calais and the Scheldt 
which had not formally submitted. The summer being 
nearly over, Caesar contented himself with a hasty survey 
of their frontier. The weather broke up earlier than usual, 
and the troops were redistributed in their quarters. Again 
there had been a year of unbroken success. The Romans 
were masters of Gaul, and the admirable care of their com- 
mander had preserved the numbers in his legions almost 
undiminished. The smallness of the loss with which all 
these wonders were accomplished is perhaps the most 
extraordinary feature of the story. Not till a year later 
is there any notice of fresh recruits being brought from 

The winter which followed brought with it another of 
the dangerous waves of German immigration. The pow- 
erful Suevi, a nation of warriors who cultivated no lands, 
who wore no clothes but a deer or sheep skin, who lived 
by hunting and pasture, despised the restraints of station- 
ary life, and roved at pleasure into their neighbours' terri- 
tories, were pressing on the weaker tribes and forcing 
them down into the low countries. The Belgians, hoping 
for their help against the Romans, had invited these tribes 
over the Rhine; and, untaught by the fate of Ariovistus, 

234 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 55 

they were crossing over and collecting in enormous num- 
bers above the junction of the Rhine and the Meuse. Into 
a half-peopled country, large portions of which are lying 
waste, it might be barbarous to forbid an immigration of 
harmless and persecuted strangers; but if these Germans 
were persecuted, they were certainly not harmless; they 
had come at the instance of the party in Gaul which was 
determined to resist the Roman conquest, and unless the 
conquest was to be abandoned, necessity required that the 
immigration must be prohibited. When the advance of 
spring allowed the troops to move, Caesar called a council 
of Gallic chiefs. He said nothing of the information which 
had reached him respecting their correspondence with 
these new invaders, but with his usual swiftness of decision 
he made up his mind to act without waiting for disaffection 
to show itself. He advanced at once to the Ardennes, 
where he was met by envoys from the German camp. 
They said that they had been expelled from their country, 
and had come to Gaul in search of a home; they did not 
wish to quarrel with the Romans; if Caesar would protect 
them and give them lands they promised to be useful to 
him; if he refused their alliance, they declared that they 
would defend themselves. They had fled before the 
Sueves, for the Sueves were the first nation in the world; 
the immortal gods were not a match for the Sueves; but 
they were afraid of no one else, and Caesar might choose 
whether he would have them for friends or foes. 

Caesar replied that they must not stay in Gaul. There 
were no unoccupied lands in Gaul which could receive so 
vast a multitude. The Ubii * on their own side of the 
Rhine were allies of the Romans; the Ubii, he was willing 
to undertake, would provide for them; meanwhile they 
must go back; he would listen to no other conditions. The 
envoys departed with their answer, begging Caesar to 
advance no farther till he had again heard from them. 
This could not be granted. The interval would be em- 
ployed in communicating with the Gauls. Caesar pushed 
on, crossed the Meuse at Maestricht, and descended the 

b. c. 55] DEFEAT OF THE GERMANS 235 

river to Venloo, where he was but twelve miles distant 
from the German headquarters. Again messengers came, 
asking for time — time, at least, till they could learn 
whether the Ubii would receive them. If the Ubii were 
favourable, they said that they were ready to go; but they 
could not decide without a knowledge of what was to be- 
come of them. They asked for a respite, if only for three 

Three days meant only leisure to collect their scattered 
detachments, that they might make a better fight. Caesar 
gave them twenty-four hours. 

The two armies were so ne .r that their front lines were 
in sight of each other. Caesar had given orders to his 
officers not to meddle with the Germans. But the Ger- 
mans, being undisciplined and hot-blooded, were less easy 
to be restrained. A large body of them flung themselves 
on the Roman advanced guard and drove it in with con- 
siderable loss; seventy-four Roman knights fell, and two 
Aquitanian noblemen, brothers, serving under Caesar, were 
killed in defending each other. 

Caesarwasnot sorry for an excuse to refuse further parley. 
The Germans were now scattered. In a day or two they 
would be united again. He knew the effect which would 
be produced on the restless minds of the Gauls by the news 
of a reverse, however slight; and if he delayed longer he 
feared that the country might be on fire in his rear. On 
the morning which followed the first action, the principal 
German chiefs appeared to apologize and to ask for a truce. 
They had come in of their own accord. They had not 
applied for a safe conduct, and war had been begun by 
their own people. They were detained as prisoners; and, 
marching rapidly over the short space which divided the 
camps, Caesar flung himself on the unfortunate people 
when they were entirely unprepared for the attack. Their 
chiefs were gone. They were lying about in confusion 
beside their wagons, women and children dispersed among 
the men; hundreds of thousands of human creatures, igno- 
rant where to turn for orders, and uncertain whether to 

236 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 55 

fight or fly. In this condition the legions burst in on 
them, furious at what they called the treachery of the pre- 
vious day, and merciless in their vengeance. The poor 
Germans stood bravely defending themselves as they 
could; but the sight of their women flying in shrieking 
crowds, pursued by the Roman horse, was too much for 
them, and the whole host were soon rushing in despairing 
wreck down the narrowing isthmus between the Meuse 
and the Rhine. They came to the junction at last, and 
then they could go no further. Multitudes were slaugh- 
tered; multitudes threw themselves into the water and 
were drowned. Caesar, who was not given to exaggera- 
tion, says that their original number was 430,000. The 
only survivors, of whom any clear record remains, were 
the detachments who were absent from the battle, and the 
few chiefs who had come into Caesar's camp and continued 
with him at their own request from fear of being mur- 
dered by the Gauls. 

This affair was much spoken of at the time, as well it 
might be. Questions were raised upon it in the Senate. 
Cato insisted that Caesar had massacred a defenceless 
people in a time of truce, that he had broken the law of 
nations, and that he ought to be given up to the Germans. 
The sweeping off the earth in such a manner of a quarter 
of a million human creatures, even in those unscrupulous 
times, could not be heard of without a shudder. The irri- 
tation in the Senate can hardly be taken as disinterested. 
Men who had intrigued with Ariovistus for Caesar's 
destruction needed not to be credited with feelings of pure 
humanity when they made the most of the opportunity. 
But an opportunity had undoubtedly been offered them. 
The rights of war have their limits. No living man in 
ordinary circumstances recognised those limits more than 
Caesar did. No commander was more habitually merciful 
in victory. In this case the limits had been ruthlessly 
exceeded. The Germans were not indeed defending their 
own country; they were the invaders of another; but they 
were a fine brave race, overtaken by fate when doing no 


more than their forefathers had done for unknown genera- 
tions. The excuse for their extermination was simply 
this: that Caesar had undertaken the conquest of Gaul for 
the defence of Italy. A powerful party among the Gauls 
themselves were content to be annexed to the Roman Em- 
pire. The patriots looked to the Germans to help them 
in driving out the Romans. The Germanizing of Gaul 
would lead with certainty to fresh invasions of Italy; and 
it seemed permissible, and even necessary, to put a stop 
to these immigrations once for all, and to show Gauls and 
Germans equally that they were not to be. 

It was not enough to have driven the Germans out of 
Gaul. Caesar respected tLeir character. He admired 
their abstinence from wine, their courage, their frugal 
habits, and their pure morality. But their virtues made 
them only more dangerous; and he desired to show them 
that the Roman arm was long and could reach them even 
in their own homes. Parties of the late invaders had re- 
turned over the Rhine, and were protected by the Sigam- 
bri in Westphalia. Caesar had demanded their surrender, 
and the Sigambri had answered that Roman authority did 
not reach across the river; if Caesar forbade Germans to 
cross into Gaul, the Germans would not allow the Romans 
to dictate to them in their own country. The Ubii were 
growing anxious. They were threatened by the Sueves for 
deserting the national cause. They begged Caesar to show 
himself among them, though his stay might be but short, as 
a proof that he had power and will to protect them; and 
they offered him boats and barges to carry his army over. 
Caesar decided to go, but to go with more ostentation. 
The object was to impress the German imagination; and 
boats and barges which might not always be obtainable 
would, if they seemed essential, diminish the effect. The 
legions were skilled workmen, able to turn their hand to 
anything. He determined to make a bridge; and he chose 
Bonn for the site of it. The river was broad, deep, and 
rapid. The materials were still standing in the forest; yet 
in ten days from the first stroke that was delivered by an 

238 JULIUS CESAR [ B . c. 55 

axe, a bridge had been made standing firmly on rows of piles 
with a road over it forty feet wide. A strong guard was left 
at each end. Caesar marched across with the legions, and 
from all sides deputations from the astonished people poured 
in to beg for peace. The Sigambri had fled to their woods. 
The Suevi fell back into the Thuringian forests. He burnt 
the villages of the Sigambri, to leave the print of his pres- 
ence. He paid the Ubii a long visit; and after remaining 
eighteen days beyond the river, he considered that his pur- 
pose had been gained, and he returned to Gaul, destroying 
the bridge behind him. 

It was now about the beginning of August. A few 
weeks only of possible fine weather remained. Gaul was 
quiet, not a tribe was stirring. The people were stunned by 
Caesar's extraordinary performances. West of the Chan- 
nel which washed the shores of the Belgae lay an island 
where the enemies of Rome had found shelter, and from 
which help had been sent to the rebellious Bretons. 
Caesar, the most skilful and prudent of generals, was yet 
adventurous as a knight errant. There was still time for 
a short expedition into Britain. As yet nothing was 
known of that country, save the white cliffs which could 
be seen from Calais; Roman merchants occasionally 
touched there, but they had never ventured into the inte- 
rior; they could give no information as to the size of the 
island, the qualities of the harbours, the character or habits 
of the inhabitants. Complete ignorance of such near 
neighbours was undesirable and inconvenient; and Caesar 
wished to look at them with his own eyes. The fleet which 
had been used in the war with the Veneti was sent round 
into the Channel. He directed Caius Volusenus, an officer 
whom he could trust, to take a galley and make a survey 
of the opposite coast, and he himself followed to Boulogne, 
where his vessels were waiting for him. The gathering of 
the flotilla and its object had been reported to Britain, and 
envoys from various tribes were waiting there with offers 
of hostages and humble protestations. Caesar received 
them graciously, and sent back with them a Gaul named 


Commius, whom he had made chief of the Atrebates, to 
tell the people that he was coming over as a friend, and 
that they had nothing to fear. 

Volusenus returned after five days' absence, having been 
unable to gather anything of importance. The ships 
which had come in were able only to take across two 
legions, probably at less than their full complement — or 
at most ten thousand men; but for Caesar's present pur- 
pose these were sufficient. Leaving Sabinus and Cotta in 
charge of the rest of the army, he sailed on a calm even- 
ing, and was off Dover in the morning. The cliffs were 
lined with painted warriors, and hung so close over the 
water that if he attempted tr land there stones and lances 
could reach the boats from the edge of the precipice. He 
called his officers about him while his fleet collected, and 
said a few encouraging words to them; he then moved up 
the coast with the tide, apparently as far as Walmer or 
Deal. Here the beach was open and the water deep near 
the land. The Britons had followed by the brow of the 
cliff, scrambling along with their cars and horses. The 
shore was covered with them, and they evidently meant 
to fight. The transports anchored where the water was 
still up to the men's shoulders. They were incumbered 
with their arms, and did not like the look of what was 
before them. Seeing them hesitate, Caesar sent his armed 
galleys filled with archers and crossbowmen to clear the 
approach; and as the legionaries still hesitated, an officer 
who carried the eagle of the Tenth leapt into the sea and 
bade his comrades follow if they wished to save their stan- 
dard. They sprang overboard with a general cheer. The 
Britons rode their horses into the waves to meet them; and 
for a few minutes the Romans could make no progress. 
Boats came to their help, which kept back the most active 
of their opponents, and once on land they were in their 
own element. The Britons galloped off, and Caesar had 
no cavalry. 

A camp was then formed. Some of the ships were left 
at anchor, others were brought on shore, and were hauled 

24O JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 55 

up to the usual high-water mark. Commius came in with 
deputations, and peace was satisfactorily arranged. All 
went well till the fourth day, when the full moon brought 
the spring tide, of which the Romans had no experience 
and had not provided for it. Heavy weather came up 
along with it. The galleys on the beach were floated off; 
the transports at anchor parted their cables; some were 
driven on shore, some out into the Channel. Caesar was 
in real anxiety. He had no means of procuring a second 
fleet. He had made no preparations for wintering in 
Britain. The legions had come light, without tents or 
baggage, as he meant to stay no longer than he had done 
in Germany, two or three weeks at most. Skill and energy 
repaired the damage. The vessels which had gone astray 
were recovered. Those which were least injured were re- 
paired with the materials of the rest. Twelve only were 
lost, the others were made seaworthy. 

The Britons, as Caesar expected, had taken heart at the 
disaster. They broke their agreement, and fell upon his 
outposts. Seeing the small number of Romans, they col- 
lected in force, in the hope that if they could destroy the 
first comers no more such unwelcome visitors would ever 
arrive to trouble them. A sharp action taught them their 
mistake; and after many of the poor creatures had been 
killed, they brought in hostages, and again begged for 
peace. The equinox was now coming on. The weather 
was again threatening. Postponing, therefore, further 
inquiries into the nature of the British and their country, 
Caesar used the first favourable opportunity and returned, 
without further adventure, to Boulogne. The legions 
were distributed among the Belgae; and Caesar himself, 
who could have no rest, hastened over the Alps to deal 
with other disturbances which had broken out in Illyria. 

The bridge over the Rhine and the invasion of a country 
so remote that it was scarcely believed to exist, roused the 
enthusiasm at Rome beyond the point which it had hith- 
erto reached. The Roman populace was accustomed to 
victories, but these were portents like the achievements 


of the old demigods. The humbled Senate voted twenty 
days of thanksgiving; and faction, controlled by Pompey, 
was obliged to be silent. 

The Illyrian troubles were composed without fighting, 
and the interval of winter was spent in preparations for 
a renewal of the expedition into Britain on a larger scale. 
Orders had been left with the officers in command to pre- 
pare as many transports as the time would allow, broader 
and lower in the side for greater convenience in loading 
and unloading. In April Caesar returned. He visited the 
different stations, and he found that his expert legionaries, 
working incessantly, had built six hundred transports and 
twenty-eight armed galleys. All these were finished and 
ready to be launched. He directed that they should col- 
lect at Boulogne as before; and in the interval he paid a 
visit to the north of Gaul, where there were rumours of 
fresh correspondence with the Germans. Danger, if dan- 
ger there was, was threatened by the Treveri, a powerful 
tribe, still unbroken, on the Moselle. Caesar, however, 
had contrived to attach the leading chiefs to the Roman 
interest. He found nothing to alarm him, and once more 
went down to the sea. In his first venture he had been 
embarrassed by want of cavalry. He was by this time 
personally acquainted with the most influential of the 
Gallic nobles. He had requested them to attend him into 
Britain with their mounted retinues, both for service in 
the field and that he might keep these restless chiefs under 
his eye. Among the rest he had not overlooked the 
^Eduan prince, Dumnorix, whose intrigues had brought 
the Helvetii out of Switzerland, and whose treachery had 
created difficulty and nearly disaster in the first campaign. 
Dumnorix had not forgotten his ambition. He had af- 
fected penitence, and he had been treated with kindness. 
He had availed himself of the favour which had been 
shown to him to pretend to his countrymen that Caesar 
had promised him the chieftainship. He had petitioned 
earnestly to be excused from accompanying the expedi- 
tion, and, Caesar having for this reason probably the more 

242 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c . 54 

insisted upon it, he had persuaded the other chiefs that 
Caesar meant to destroy them, and that if they went to 
Britain they would never return. These whisperings were 
reported to Caesar. Dumnorix had come to Boulogne 
with the rest, and he ordered him to be watched. A long 
westerly wind had prevented Caesar from embarking as 
soon as he had wished. The weather changed at last, and 
the troops were ordered on board. Dumnorix slipped 
away in the confusion with a party of yEduan horse, and 
it was now certain that he had sinister intentions. The 
embarkation was suspended. A detachment of cavalry 
was sent in pursuit, with directions to bring Dumnorix 
back dead or alive. Dumnorix resisted and was killed. 

No disturbance followed on his death. The remaining 
chiefs were loyal, or wished to appear loyal, and further 
delay was unnecessary. Labienus, whom Caesar thor- 
oughly trusted, remained behind with three legions and 
two thousand horse to watch over Gaul; and on a fine 
summer evening, with a light air from the south, Caesar 
sailed at sunset on the 20th of July. He had fiye legions 
with him. He had as many cavalry as he haxl left with 
Labienus. His flotilla, swollen by volunteers, amounted 
to eight hundred vessels, small and great. At sunrise they 
were in midchannel, lying in a dead calm, with the cliffs of 
Britain plainly visible on their left hand. The tide was 
flowing. Oars were out; the legionaries worked with such 
enthusiasm that the transports kept abreast of the war gal- 
leys. At noon they had reached the beach at Deal, where 
this time they found no enemy to oppose their landing; 
the Britons had been terrified at the multitude of ships and 
boats in which the power of Rome was descending on 
them, and had fled into the interior. The water was 
smooth, the disembarkation easy. A camp was drawn out 
and intrenched, and six thousand men, with a few hundred 
horse, were told off to guard it. The fleet was left riding 
quietly at anchor, the pilots ignorant of the meaning of 
the treacherous southern air which had been so welcome 
to them; and Caesar advanced inland as far as the Stour. 


The Britons, after an unsuccessful stand to prevent the 
Romans from crossing the river, retired into the woods, 
where they had made themselves a fortress with felled 
trees. The weak defence was easily stormed; the Britons 
were flying; the Romans were preparing to follow; when 
an express came from Deal to tell Caesar that a gale had 
risen again and the fleet was lying wrecked upon the shore. 
A second accident of the same kind might have seemed an 
omen of evil, but Caesar did not believe in omens. The 
even temperament of his mind was never discomposed, and 
at each moment he was able always to decide, and to do, 
what the moment required. The army was halted. He 
rode back himself to the camp, to find that forty of his 
vessels only were entirely ruined. The rest were injured, 
but not irreparably. They were hauled up within the 
lines of the camp. He selected the best mechanics out of 
the legions; he sent across to Labienus for more, and 
directed him to build fresh transports in the yards at 
Boulogne. The men worked night and day, and in little 
more than a week Caesar was able to rejoin his troops and 
renew his march. 

The object of the invasion had been rather to secure the 
quiet of Gaul than the annexation of new subjects and 
further territory. But it could not be obtained till the 
Romans had measured themselves against the Britons and 
had asserted their military superiority. The Britons had 
already shown themselves a fearless race, who could not 
be despised. They fought bravely from their cars and 
horses, retreated rapidly when overmatched, and were 
found dangerous when pursued. Encouraged by the re- 
port of the disaster to the fleet, Cassibelaunus, chief of the 
Cassi, whose headquarters were at St. Albans, had col- 
lected a considerable army from both sides of the Thames, 
and was found in strength in Caesar's front when he again 
began to move. They attacked his foraging parties. 
They set on fire his flanking detachments. They left their 
cars and fought on foot when they could catch an advan- 
tage; and remounted and were swiftly out of the reach of 

244 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 54 

the heavily armed Roman infantry. The Gaulish horse 
pursued, but did not know the country, and suffered more 
harm than they inflicted. Thus the British gave Caesar 
considerable trouble, which he recorded to their credit. 
Not a word can be found in his " Commentaries " to the 
disparagement of brave and open adversaries. At length 
he forced them into a battle, where their best warriors were 
killed. The confederacy of tribes dissolved, and never ral- 
lied again, and he pursued his march thenceforward with 
little molestation. He crossed the Medway, and reached 
the Thames seemingly at Sunbury. There was a ford 
there, but the river was still deep, the ground was staked, 
and Cassibelaunus with his own people was on the other 
side. The legions, however, paid small attention to Cassi- 
belaunus; they plunged through with the water at their 
necks. The Britons dispersed, driving off their cattle, and 
watching his march from a distance. The tribes from the 
eastern counties made their submission, and at Caesar's 
orders supplied him with corn. Caesar marched on to St. 
Albans itself, then lying in the midst of forests and 
marshes, where the cattle, the Cassi's only wealth, had 
been collected for security. St. Albans and the cattle were 
taken; Cassibelaunus sued for peace; the days were draw- 
ing in; and Caesar, having no intention of wintering in 
Britain, considered he had done enough and need go no 
farther. He returned as he had come. The Kentish men 
had attacked the camp in his absence, but had been beaten 
off with heavy loss. The Romans had sallied out upon 
them, killed as many as they could catch, and taken one 
of their chiefs. Thenceforward they had been left in quiet. 
A nominal tribute, which was never paid, was assigned to 
the tribes who had submitted. The fleet was in order, and 
all was ready for departure. The only, but unhappily too 
valuable, booty which they had carried off consisted of 
some thousands of prisoners. These, when landed in 
Gaul, were disposed of to contractors, to be carried to 
Italy and sold as slaves. Two trips were required to trans- 
port the increased numbers; but the passage was accom- 


plished without accident, and the whole army was again 
at Boulogne. 

Thus ended the expedition into Britain. It had been 
undertaken rather for effect than for material advantage; 
and everything which had been aimed at had been gained. 
The Gauls looked no more across the Channel for support 
of insurrections; the Romans talked with admiration for 
a century of the far land to which Caesar had borne the 
eagles; and no exploit gave him more fame with his con- 
temporaries. Nor was it without use to have solved a 
geographical problem, and to have discovered with cer- 
tainty what the country was, the white cliffs of which were 
visible from the shores which were now Roman territory. 
Caesar, during his stay in Britain, had acquired a fairly 
accurate notion of it. He knew that it was an island, and 
he knew its dimensions and shape. He knew that Ireland 
lay to the west of it, and Ireland, he had been told, was 
about half its size. He had heard of the Isle of Man, and 
how it was situated. To the extreme north above Britain 
he had ascertained that there were other islands, where in 
winter the sun scarcely rose above the horizon; and he had 
observed through accurate measurement by water-clocks 
that the midsummer nights in Britain were shorter than 
in the south of France and Italy. He had inquired into 
the natural products of the country. There were tin 
mines, he found, in parts of the island, and iron in small 
quantities; but copper was imported from the Continent. 
The vegetation resembled that of France, save that he saw 
no beech and no spruce pine. Of more consequence were 
the people and the distribution of them. The Britons of 
the interior he conceived to be indigenous. The coast 
was chiefly occupied by immigrants from Belgium, as 
could be traced in the nomenclature of places. The coun- 
try seemed thickly inhabited. The flocks and herds were 
large; and farm buildings were frequent, resembling those 
in Gaul. In Kent especially, civilization was as far ad- 
vanced as on the opposite continent. The Britons proper 
from the interior showed fewer signs of progress. They 

246 JULIUS CESAR [ B . c. 54 

did not break the ground for corn; they had no manu- 
factures; they lived on meat and milk, and were dressed in 
leather. They dyed their skins blue that they might look 
more terrible. They wore their hair long, and had long 
mustaches. In their habits they had not risen out of the 
lowest order of savagery. They had wives in common, 
and brothers and sisters, parents and children, lived to- 
gether with promiscuous unrestraint. From such a coun- 
try not much was to be gained in the way of spoil ; nor had 
much been expected. Since Cicero's conversion, his 
brother Quintus had joined Csesar, and was now attending 
him as one of his lieutenant-generals. The brothers were 
in intimate correspondence. Cicero, though he watched 
the British expedition with interest, anticipated that 
Quintus would bring nothing of value back with him but 
slaves; and he warned his friend Atticus, who dealt ex- 
tensively in such commodities, that the slaves from Britain 
would not be found of superior quality. 2 


1 Page 234. Nassau and Darmstadt. 

'Page 246. " Britannici belli exitus exspectatur. Constat enim, aditus 
insulse esse munitos mirificis molibus. Etiam illud jam cognitum est, 
neque argenti scrupulum esse ullum in ilia insula, neque ullam spem 
prsedae, nisi ex mancipiis: ex quibis nullos puto te litteris aut musicis 
eruditos exspectare." — Ad Atticum, iv. 16. It does not appear what 
Cicero meant by the " mirificae moles " which guarded the approaches 
to Britain, whether Dover Cliff or the masses of sand under water at 
the Goodwins. 


THE summer had passed off gloriously for the Ro- 
man arms. The expedition to Britain had pro- 
duced all the effects which Caesar expected from 
it, and Gaul was outwardly calm. Below the smooth 
appearance the elements of disquiet were silently working, 
and the winter was about to produce the most serious dis- 
aster and the sharpest trial? which Caesar had yet experi- 
enced. On his return from Britain he held a council at 
Amiens. The harvest had been bad, and it was found 
expedient, for their better provision, to disperse the troops 
over a broader area than usual. There were in all eight 
legions, with part of another to be disposed of, and they 
were distributed in the following order: Lucius Roscius 
was placed at Seex, in Normandy; Quintus Cicero at 
Charleroy, not far from the scene of the battle with the 
Nervii. Cicero had chosen this position for himself as 
peculiarly advantageous; and his brother speaks of Caesar's 
acquiescence in the arrangement as a special mark of 
favour to himself. Labienus was at Lavacherie, on the 
Ourthe, about seventy miles to the southeast of Cicero; 
and Sabinus and Cotta were at Tongres, among the Adua- 
tuci, not far from Liege, an equal distance from him to 
the northeast. Caius Fabius had a legion at St. Pol, be- 
tween Calais and Arras; Trebonius one at Amiens; Marcus 
Crassus one at Montdidier; Munatius Plancus one across 
the Oise, near Compiegne. Roscius was far off, but in 
a comparatively quiet country. The other camps lay 
within a circle, two hundred miles in diameter, of which 
Bavay was the centre. Amiens was at one point on the 
circumference. Tongres, on the opposite side of it, to the 
northeast. Sabinus, being the most exposed, had, in ad- 
dition to his legion, a few cohorts lately raised in Italy. 


248 JULIUS (LESAR [b. c. 54 

Caesar, having no particular business to take him over the 
Alps, remained with Trebonius attending to general busi- 
ness. His dispositions had been carefully watched by the 
Gauls. Caesar, they supposed, would go away as usual; 
they even believed that he had gone; and a conspiracy was 
formed in the north to destroy the legions in detail. 

The instigator of the movement was Induciomarus, the 
leader of the patriot party among the Treveri, whose in- 
trigues had taken Caesar to the Moselle before the first visit 
to Britain. At that time Induciomarus had been able to 
do nothing; but a fairer opportunity had arrived. The 
overthrow of the great German horde had affected power- 
fully the semi-Teutonic populations on the left bank of 
the Rhine. The Eburones, a large tribe of German race 
occupying the country between Liege and Cologne, had 
given in their submission; but their strength was still undi- 
minished, and Induciomarus prevailed on their two chiefs, 
Ambiorix and Catavolcus, to attack Sabinus and Cotta. 
It was midwinter. The camp at Tongres was isolated. 
The nearest support was seventy miles distant. If one 
Roman camp was taken Induciomarus calculated that the 
country would rise; the others could be separately sur- 
rounded, and Gaul would be free. The plot was well laid. 
An intrenched camp being difficult to storm, the confed- 
erates decided to begin by treachery. Ambiorix was per- 
sonally known to many of the Roman officers. He sent 
to Sabinus to say that he wished to communicate with him 
on a matter of the greatest consequence. An interview 
being granted, he stated that a general conspiracy had 
been formed through the whole of Gaul to surprise and 
destroy the legions. Each station was to be attacked on 
the same day that they might be unable to support each 
other. He pretended himself to have remonstrated; but 
his tribe, he said, had been carried away by the general 
enthusiasm for liberty, and he could not keep them back. 
Vast bodies of Germans had crossed the Rhine to join in 
the war. In two days at the furthest they would arrive. 
He was under private obligations to Caesar, who had res- 


cued his son and nephew in the fight with the Aduatuci, 
and out of gratitude he wished to save Sabinus from 
destruction, which was otherwise inevitable. He urged 
him to escape while there was still time, and to join either 
Labienus or Cicero, giving a solemn promise that he 
should not be molested on the road. 

A council of officers was held on the receipt of this un- 
welcome information. It was thought unlikely that the 
Eburones would rise by themselves. It was probable 
enough, therefore, that the conspiracy was more exten- 
sive. Cotta, who was second in command, was of 
opinion that it would be rash and wrong to leave the camp 
without Caesar's orders. Trey had abundant provisions. 
They could hold their own lines against any force which 
the Germans could bring upon them, and help would not 
be long in reaching them. It would be preposterous to 
take so grave a step on the advice of an enemy. Sabinus 
unfortunately thought differently. He had been over- 
cautious in Brittany, though he had afterward redeemed 
his fault. Caesar, he persuaded himself, had left the coun- 
try; each commander therefore must act on his own re- 
sponsibility. The story told by Ambiorix was likely in 
itself. The Germans were known to be furious at the pas- 
sage of the Rhine, the destruction of Ariovistus and their 
other defeats. Gaul resented the loss of its independence. 
Ambiorix was acting like a true friend, and it would be 
madness to refuse his offer. Two days' march would 
bring them to their friends. If the alarm was false, they 
could return. If there was to be a general insurrection, 
the legions could not be too speedily brought together. 
If they waited, as Cotta advised, they would be sur- 
rounded, and in the end would be starved into surrender. 

Cotta was not convinced, and the majority of the officers 
supported him. The first duty of a Roman army, he said, 
was obedience to orders. Their business was to hold the 
post which had been committed to them till they were 
otherwise directed. The officers were consulting in the 
midst of the camp, surrounded by the legionaries. " Have 

250 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 54 

it as ycu wish/' Sabinus exclaimed, in a tone which the 
men could hear; " I am not afraid of being killed. If 
things go amiss, the troops will understand where to lay 
the blame. If you allowed it they might in forty-eight 
hours be at the next quarters, facing the chances of war 
with their comrades, instead of perishing here alone by 
sword or hunger." 

Neither party would give way. The troops joined in 
the discussion. They were willing either to go or to stay, 
if their commanders would agree; but they said that it 
must be one thing or the other; disputes would be certain 
ruin. The discussion lasted till midnight. Sabinus was 
obstinate, Cotta at last withdrew his opposition, and the 
fatal resolution was formed to march at dawn. The re- 
maining hours of the night were passed by the men in 
collecting such valuables as they wished to take with them. 
Everything seemed ingeniously done to increase the diffi- 
culty of remaining, and to add to the perils of the march 
by the exhaustion of the troops. The Meuse lay between 
them and Labienus, so they had selected to go to Cicero 
at Charleroy. Their course lay up the left bank of the 
little river Geer. Trusting to the promises of Ambiorix, 
they started in loose order, followed by a long train of 
carts and waggons. The Eburones lay waiting for them 
in a large valley two miles from the camp. When most 
of the cohorts were entangled in the middle of the hollow, 
the enemy appeared suddenly, some in front, some on both 
sides of the valley, some behind threatening the baggage. 
Wise men, as Caesar says, anticipate possible difficulties 
and decide beforehand what they will do if occasions arise. 
Sabinus had foreseen nothing and arranged nothing. 
Cotta, who had expected what might happen, was better 
prepared, and did the best that was possible. The men 
had scattered among the waggons, each to save or protect 
what he could. Cotta ordered them back, bade them 
leave the carts to their fate, and form together in a ring. 
He did right, Caesar thought; but the effect was unfortu- 
nate. The troops lost heart, and the enemy was encour- 


aged, knowing that the baggage would only be abandoned 
when the position was desperate. The Eburones were 
under good command. They did not, as might have been 
expected, fly upon the plunder. They stood to their work, 
well aware that the carts would not escape them. They 
were not in great numbers. Caesar specially says that the 
Romans were as numerous as they. But everything else 
was against the Romans. Sabinus could give no direc- 
tions. They were in a narrow meadow, with wooded hills 
on each side of them filled with enemies whom they could 
not reach. When they charged, the light-footed bar- 
barians ran back; when they retired, they closed in upon 
them again, and not a dart, za arrow, or a stone missed its 
mark among the crowded cohorts. Bravely as the Ro- 
mans fought, they were in a trap where their courage was 
useless to them. The battle lasted from dawn till the after- 
noon, and though they were falling fast, there was no 
flinching and no cowardice. Caesar, who inquired particu- 
larly into the minutest circumstances of the disaster, 
records by name the officers who distinguished themselves; 
he mentions one whose courage he had marked before, 
who was struck down with a lance through his thighs, and 
another who was killed rescuing his son. The brave 
Cotta was hit in the mouth by a stone as he was cheering 
on his men. The end came at last. Sabinus, helpless and 
distracted, caught sight of Ambiorix in the confusion, and 
sent an interpreter to implore him to spare the remainder 
of the army. Ambiorix answered that Sabinus might 
come to him if he pleased; he hoped he might persuade his 
tribe to be merciful; he promised that Sabinus himself 
should suffer no injury. Sabinus asked Cotta to accom- 
pany him. Cotta said he would never surrender to an 
armed enemy; and, wounded as he was, he stayed with the 
legion. Sabinus, followed by the rest of the surviving 
officers whom he ordered to attend him, proceeded to the 
spot where the chief was standing. They were com- 
manded to lay down their arms. They obeyed, and were 
immediately killed; and with one wild yell the barbarians 

252 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 54 

then rushed in a mass on the deserted cohorts. Cotta fell, 
and most of the others with him. The survivors, with the 
eagle of the legion, which they had still faithfully guarded, 
struggled back in the dusk to their deserted camp. The 
standard-bearer, surrounded by enemies, reached the fosse, 
flung the eagle over the rampart, and fell with the last 
effort. Those that were left fought on till night, and then, 
seeing that hope was gone, died like Romans on each 
other's swords — a signal illustration of the Roman great- 
ness of mind, which had died out among the degenerate 
patricians, but was living in all its force in Caesar's legions. 
A few stragglers, who had been cut off during the battle 
from their comrades, escaped in the night through the 
woods, and carried the news to Labienus. Cicero, at 
Charleroy, was left in ignorance. The roads were beset, 
and no messenger could reach him. 

Induciomarus understood his countrymen. The con- 
spiracy with which he had frightened Sabinus had not as 
yet extended beyond a few northern chiefs, but the success 
of Ambiorix produced the effect which he desired. As 
soon as it was known that two Roman generals had been 
cut off, the remnants of the Aduatuci and the Nervii were 
in arms for their own revenge. The smaller tribes along 
the Meuse and Sambre rose with them; and Cicero, taken 
by surprise, found himself surrounded before he had a 
thought of danger. The Gauls, knowing that their 
chances depended on the capture of the second camp before 
assistance could arrive, flung themselves so desperately on 
the intrenchments that the legionaries were barely able to 
repel the first assault. The assailants were driven back 
at last, and Cicero despatched messengers to Csesar to 
Amiens, to give him notice of the rising; but not a man was 
able to penetrate through the multitude of enemies which 
now swarmed in the woods. The troops worked gal- 
lantly, strengthening the weak points of their fortifications. 
In one night they raised a hundred and twenty towers on 
their walls. Again the Gauls tried a storm, and, though 
they failed a second time, they left the garrison no rest 


either by day or night. There was no leisure for sleep; 
not a hand could be spared from the lines to care for the 
sick or wounded. Cicero was in bad health, but he clung 
to his work till the men carried him by force to his tent 
and obliged him to lie down. The first surprise not hav- 
ing succeeded, the Nervian chiefs, who knew Cicero, de- 
sired a parley. They told the same story which Ambiorix 
had told, that the Germans had crossed the Rhine, and that 
all Gaul was in arms. They informed him of the destruc- 
tion of Sabinus; they warned him that the same fate was 
hanging over himself, and that his only hope was in sur- 
render. They did not wish, they said, to hurt either him 
or the Roman people; he and his troops would be free to 
go where they pleased, but they were determined to pre- 
vent the legions from quartering themselves permanently 
in their country. 

There was but one Sabinus in the Roman army. 
Cicero answered with a spirit worthy of his country, that 
Romans accepted no conditions from enemies in arms. 
The Gauls might, if they pleased, send a deputation to 
Caesar, and hear what he would say to them. For him- 
self, he had no authority to listen to them. Force and 
treachery being alike unavailing, they resolved to starve 
Cicero out. They had watched the Roman strategy. 
They had seen and felt the value of the intrenchments. 
They made a bank and ditch all round the camp, and, 
though they had no tools but their swords with which to 
dig turf and cut trees, so many there were of them that 
the work was completed in three hours. 1 Having thus 
pinned the Romans in, they slung red-hot balls and flung 
darts carrying lighted straw over the ramparts of the camp 
on the thatched roofs of the soldiers' huts. The wind was 
high, the fire spread, and amidst the smoke and the blaze 
the Gauls again rushed on from all sides to the assault. 
Roman discipline was never more severely tried, and never 
showed its excellence more signally. The houses and 
stores of the soldiers were in flames behind them. The 
enemy were pressing on the walls in front, covered by a 

254 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 54 

storm of javelins and stones and arrows, but not a man 
left his post to save his property or to extinguish the fire. 
They fought as they stood, striking down rank after rank 
of the Gauls, who still crowded on, trampling on the bodies 
of their companions, as the foremost lines fell dead into the 
ditch. Such as reached the wall never left it alive, for 
they were driven forward by the throng behind on the 
swords of the legionaries. Thousands of them had fallen 
before, in desperation, they drew back at last. 

But Cicero's situation was almost desperate too. The 
huts were destroyed. The majority of the men were 
wounded, and those able to bear arms were daily growing 
weaker in number. Caesar was 120 miles distant, and no 
word had reached him of the danger. Messengers were 
again sent off, but they were caught one after another, 
and were tortured to death in front of the ramparts, and 
the boldest men shrank from risking their lives on so hope- 
less an enterprise. At length a Nervian slave was found 
to make another adventure. He was a Gaul, and could 
easily disguise himself. A letter to Caesar was inclosed in 
the shaft of his javelin. He glided out of the camp in the 
dark, passed undetected among the enemies as one of 
themselves, and, escaping from their lines, made his way 
to Amiens. 

Swiftness of movement was Caesar's distinguishing ex : 
cellence. The legions were kept ready to march at an 
hour's notice. He sent an order to Crassus to join him 
instantly from Montdidier. He sent to Fabius at St. Pol 
to meet him at Arras. He wrote to Labienus, telling him 
the situation, and leaving him to his discretion to advance 
or to remain on his guard at Lavacherie, as might seem 
most prudent. Not caring to wait for the rest of his army, 
and leaving Crassus to take care of Amiens, he started 
himself, the morning after the information reached him, 
with Trebonius's legion to Cicero's relief. Fabius joined 
him, as he had been directed, at Arras. He had hoped for 
Labienus's presence also; but Labienus sent to say that 
he was surrounded by the Treveri, and dared not stir. 

B. c. 54] RELIEF OF CICERO 255 

Caesar approved his hesitation, and with but two legions, 
amounting in all to only 7000 men, he hurried forward 
to the Nervian border. Learning that Cicero was still 
holding out, he wrote a letter to him in Greek, that it might 
be unintelligible if intercepted, to tell him that help was 
near. A Gaul carried the letter, and fastened it by a line 
to his javelin, which he flung over Cicero's rampart. The 
javelin stuck in the side of one of the towers, and was un- 
observed for several days. The besiegers were better in- 
formed. They learnt that Caesar was at hand, that he had 
but a handful of men with him. By that time their own 
numbers had risen to 60,000, and, leaving Cicero to be dealt 
with at leisure, they moved off to envelop and destroy 
their great enemy. Caesar was well served by spies. He 
knew that Cicero was no longer in immediate danger, and 
there was thus no occasion for him to risk a battle at a dis- 
advantage to relieve him. When he found the Gauls near 
him, he encamped, drawing his lines as narrowly as he 
could, that from the small show which he made they might 
imagine his troops to be even fewer than they were. He 
invited attack by an ostentation of timidity, and having 
tempted the Gauls to become the assailants, he flung open 
his gates, rushed out upon them with his whole force, and 
all but annihilated them. The patriot army was broken 
to pieces, and the unfortunate Nervii and Aduatuci never 
rallied from this second blow. Caesar could then go at his 
leisure to Cicero and his comrades, who had fought so 
nobly against such desperate odds. In every ten men he 
found that there was but one unwounded. He inquired 
with minute curiosity into every detail of the siege. In a 
general address he thanked Cicero and the whole legion. 
He thanked the officers man by man for their gallantry 
and fidelity. Now for the first time (and that he could 
have remained ignorant of it so long speaks for the passion- 
ate unanimity with which the Gauls had risen) he learnt 
from prisoners the fate of Sabinus. He did not under- 
rate the greatness of the catastrophe. The soldiers in the 
army he trusted always as friends and comrades in arms, 

256 JULIUS CvESAR [b. c. 54 

and the loss of so many of them was as personally grievous 
to him as the effects of it might be politically mischievous. 
He made it the subject of a second speech to his own and 
to Cicero's troops, but he spoke to encourage and to con- 
sole. A serious misfortune had happened, he said, through 
the fault of one of his generals, but it must be borne with 
equanimity, and had already been heroically expiated. 
The meeting with Cicero must have been an interesting 
one. He and the two Ciceros had been friends and com- 
panions in youth. It would have been well if Marcus Tul- 
lius could have remembered in the coming years the 
personal exertion with which Caesar had rescued a brother 
to whom he was so warmly attached. 

Communications among the Gauls were feverishly rapid. 
While the Nervii were attacking Cicero, Induciomarus 
and the Treveri had surrounded Labienus at Lavacherie. 
Csesar had entered Cicero's camp at three o'clock in the 
afternoon. The news reached Induciomarus before mid- 
night, and he had disappeared by the morning. Caesar 
returned to Amiens, but the whole country was now in a 
state of excitement. He had intended to go to Italy, but 
he abandoned all thoughts of departure. Rumours came of 
messengers hurrying to and fro, of meetings at night in 
lonely places, of confederacies among the patriots. Even 
Brittany was growing uneasy; a force had been collected 
to attack Roscius, though it had dispersed after the relief 
of Cicero. Caesar again summoned the chiefs to come to 
him, and between threats and encouragements succeeded 
in preventing a general rising. But the tribes on the upper 
Seine broke into disturbance. The ^dui and the Remi 
alone remained really loyal; and it was evident that only a 
leader was wanted to raise the whole of Gaul. Caesar 
himself admitted that nothing could be more natural. The 
more high-spirited of the Gauls were miserable to see that 
their countrymen had so lost conceit of themselves as to 
submit willingly to the Roman rule. 

Induciomarus was busy all the winter, soliciting help 
from the Germans, and promising money and lands. The 


Germans had had enough of righting the Romans, and, 
as long as their own independence was not threatened, 
were disinclined to move; but Induciomarus, nothing 
daunted, gathered volunteers on all sides. His camp be- 
came a rallying point for disaffection. Envoys came pri- 
vately to him from distant tribes. He, too, held his rival 
council, and a fresh attack on the camp of Labienus was 
to be the first step in a general war. Labienus, well in- 
formed of what was going on, watched him quietly from 
his intrenchments. When the Gauls approached, he af- 
fected fear, as Caesar had done, and he secretly formed a 
body of cavalry, of whose existence they had no suspicion. 
Induciomarus became careless. Day after day he rode 
round the intrenchments, insulting the Romans as cowards, 
and his men flinging their javelins over the walls. La- 
bienus remained passive, till one evening, when, after one 
of these displays, the loose bands of the Gauls had scat- 
tered, he sent his horse out suddenly with orders to fight 
neither with small nor great, save with Induciomarus only, 
and promising a reward for his head. Fortune favoured 
him. Induciomarus was overtaken and killed in a ford of 
the Ourthe, and for the moment the agitation was cooled 
down. But the impression which had been excited by the 
destruction of Sabinus was still telling through the coun- 
try. Caesar expected fresh trouble in the coming summer, 
and spent the rest of the winter and spring in preparing 
for a new struggle. Future peace depended on convincing 
the Gauls of the inexhaustible resources of Italy; on show- 
ing them that any loss which might be inflicted could be 
immediately repaired, and that the army could and would 
be maintained in whatever strength might be necessary 
to coerce them. He raised two fresh legions in his own 
province. Pompey had formed a legion in the north of 
Italy, within Caesar's boundaries, for service in Spain. 
Caesar requested Pompey to lend him this legion for im- 
mediate purposes; and Pompey, who was still on good 
terms with Caesar, recognised the importance of the oc- 
casion, and consented without difficulty. 

258 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 53 

Thus amply reinforced, Caesar, before the grass had be- 
gun to grow, took the field against the tribes which were 
openly disaffected. The first business was to punish the 
Belgians, who had attacked Cicero. He fell suddenly on 
the Nervii with four legions, seized their cattle, wasted 
their country, and carried off thousands of them to be 
sold into slavery. Returning to Amiens, he again called 
the chiefs about him, and, the Seine tribes refusing to put 
in an appearance, he transferred the council to Paris, and, 
advancing by rapid marches, he brought the Senones and 
Carnutes to pray for pardon. 2 He then turned on the 
Treveri and their allies, who, under Ambiorix, had de- 
stroyed Sabinus. Leaving Labienus with the additional 
legions to check the Treveri, he went himself into 
Flanders, where Ambiorix was hiding among the rivers 
and marshes. He threw bridges over the dykes, burnt the 
villages, and carried off an enormous spoil, of cattle and, 
alas! of men. To favour and enrich the tribes that sub- 
mitted after a first defeat, to depopulate the determinately 
rebellious by seizing and selling as slaves those who had 
forfeited a right to his protection, was his uniform and, 
as the event proved, entirely successful policy. The per- 
suasions of the Treveri had failed with the nearer German 
tribes; but some of the Suevi, who had never seen the 
Romans, were tempted to adventure over and try their 
fortunes; and the Treveri were waiting for them, to set on 
Labienus, in Caesar's absence. Labienus went in search 
of the Treveri, tempted them into an engagement by a 
feigned flight, killed many of them, and filled his camp with 
prisoners. Their German allies retreated again across the 
river, and the patriot chiefs, who had gone with Inducio- 
marus, concealed themselves in the forests of Westphalia. 
Caesar thought it desirable to renew the admonition which 
he had given the Germans two years before, and again 
threw a bridge over the Rhine at the same place where he 
had made the first, but a little higher up the stream. Ex- 
perience made the construction more easy. The bridge 
was begun and finished in a few days, but this time the 


labour was thrown away. The operation itself lost its im- 
pressiveness by repetition, and the barrenness of practical 
results was more evident than before. The Sueves, who 
had gone home, were far away in the interior. To lead the 
heavily armed legions in pursuit of wild light-footed 
marauders, who had not a town which could be burned, 
or a field of corn which could be cut for food, was to waste 
their strength to no purpose, and to prove still more 
plainly that in their own forests they were beyond the reach 
of vengeance. Caesar drew back again, after a brief visit 
to his allies the Ubii, cut two hundred feet of the bridge 
on the German side, and leaving the rest standing with a 
guard to defend it, he went in search of Ambiorix, who 
had as yet eluded him, in the Ardennes. Ambiorix had 
added treachery to insurrection, and as long as he was free 
and unpunished the massacred legion had not been fully 
avenged. Caesar was particularly anxious to catch him, 
and once had found the nest warm which Ambiorix had 
left but a few moments before. 

In the pursuit he came again to Tongres, to the fatal 
camp which Sabinus had deserted and in which the last of 
the legionaries had killed each other, rather than degrade 
the Roman name by allowing themselves to be captured. 
The spot was fated, and narrowly escaped being the scene 
of a second catastrophe as frightful as the first. The in- 
trenchments were standing as they were left, ready to be 
occupied. Caesar, finding himself incumbered by his heavy 
baggage in the pursuit of Ambiorix, decided to leave it 
there with Quintus Cicero and the Fourteenth Legion. 
He was going himself to scour Brabant and East Flanders 
as far as the Scheldt. In seven days he promised to return, 
and meanwhile he gave Cicero strict directions to keep the 
legion within the lines, and not to allow any of the men to 
stray. It happened that after Caesar recrossed the Rhine 
two thousand German horse had followed in bravado, and 
were then plundering between Tongres and the river. 
Hearing that there was a rich booty in the camp, that 
Caesar was away, and only a small party had been left to 

2<5o JULIUS C^SAk [ B . c. 53 

guard it, they decided to try to take the place by a sudden 
stroke. Cicero seeing no sign of an enemy, had permitted 
his men to disperse in foraging parties. The Germans 
were on them before they could recover their intrench- 
ments, and they had to form at a distance and defend them- 
selves as they could. The gates of the camp were open, 
and the enemy were actually inside before the few maniples 
who were left there were able to collect and resist them. 
Fortunately Sextius Baculus, the same officer who had so 
brilliantly distinguished himself in the battle with the 
Nervii, and had since been badly wounded, was lying sick 
in his tent, where he had been for five days, unable to 
touch food. Hearing the disturbance, Baculus sprang out, 
snatched a sword, rallied such men as he could find, and 
checked the attack for a few minutes. Other officers 
rushed to his help, and the legionaries having their cen- 
turions with them recovered their steadiness. Sextius 
Baculus was again severely hurt, and fainted, but he was 
carried off in safety. Some of the cohorts who were out- 
side, and had been for a time cut off, made their way into 
the camp to join the defenders, and the Germans who had 
come without any fixed purpose, merely for plunder, gave 
way and galloped off again. They left the Romans, how- 
ever, still in the utmost consternation. The scene and the 
associations of it suggested the most gloomy anticipations. 
They thought that German cavalry could never be so far 
from the Rhine, unless their countrymen were invading 
in force behind them. Caesar, it was supposed, must have 
been surprised and destroyed, and they and every Roman 
in Gaul would soon share the same fate. Brave as they 
were, the Roman soldiers seem to have been curiously 
liable to panics of this kind. The faith with which they 
relied upon their general avenged itself through the com- 
pleteness with which they were accustomed to depend upon 
him. He returned on the day which he had fixed, and not 
unnaturally was displeased at the disregard of his orders. 
He did not, or does not in his " Commentaries," profess- 
edly blame Cicero. But the Ciceros perhaps resented the 

b. c. 53] QUIET 'RESTORED IN GAUL 26l 

loss of confidence which one of them had brought upon 
himself. Quintus Cicero cooled in his zeal, and afterwards 
amused the leisure of his winter quarters with composing 
worthless dramas. 

Ambiorix had again escaped, and was never taken. The 
punishment fell on his tribe. The Eburones were com- 
pletely rooted out. The turn of the Carnutes and Senones 
came next. The people themselves were spared; but their 
leader, a chief named Acco, who was found to have insti- 
gated the revolt, was arrested and executed. Again the 
whole of Gaul settled into seeming quiet; and Caesar went 
to Italy, where the political frenzy was now boiling over. 


1 Page 253. Caesar says their trenches were fifteen miles long. This 
is, perhaps, a mistake of the transcriber. A Roman camp did not usu- 
ally cover more than a few acres. 

2 Page 258. People about Sens, Melun, and Chartres. 


THE conference at Lucca and the Senate's indiffer- 
ence had determined Cicero to throw in his lot 
with the trimmers. He had remonstrated with 
Pompey on the imprudence of prolonging Caesar's com- 
mand. Pompey, he thought, would find out in time that 
he had made Caesar too strong for him; but Pompey had 
refused to listen, and Cicero had concluded that he must 
consider his own interests. His brother Quintus joined 
the army in Gaul to take part in the invasion of Britain, 
and to share the dangers and honours of the winter 
which followed it. Cicero himself began a warm corre- 
spondence with Caesar, and through Quintus sent con- 
tinued messages to him. Literature was a neutral ground 
on which he could approach his political enemy without 
too open discredit, and he courted eagerly the approval 
of a critic whose literary genius he esteemed as highly as 
his own. Men of genuine ability are rarely vain of what 
they can do really well. Cicero admired himself as a 
statesman with the most unbounded enthusiasm. He was 
proud of his verses, which were hopelessly commonplace. 
In the art in which he was without a rival he was modest 
and diffident. He sent his various writings for Caesar's 
judgment. " Like the traveller who has overslept him- 
self," he said, " yet by extraordinary exertion reaches his 
goal sooner than if he had been earlier on the road, I will 
follow your advice and court this man. I have been asleep 
too long. I will correct my slowness with my speed; and 
as you say he approves my verses, I shall travel not with 
a common carriage, but with a four-in-hand of poetry." 1 
" What does Caesar say of my poems? " he wrote again. 
" He tells me in one of his letters that he has never read 
better Greek. At one place he writes paSv/Aobrepa (some- 



what careless). That is his word. Tell me the truth, was 
it the matter which did not please him, or the style? " 
" Do not be afraid," he added with candid simplicity; " I 
shall not think a hair the worse of myself." 2 

His affairs were still in disorder. Caesar had now large 
sums at his disposition. Cicero gave the highest proof of 
the sincerity of his conversion by accepting money from 
him. " You say," he observed in another letter, " that 
Caesar shows every day more marks of his affection 
for you. It gives me infinite pleasure. I can have no 
second thoughts in Caesar's affairs. I act on conviction, 
and am doing but my duty; but I am inflamed with love for 
him." 3 

With Pompey and Crassus Cicero seemed equally 
familiar. When their consulship was over, their prov- 
inces were assigned as had been determined. Pompey 
had Spain with six legions. He remained himself at 
Rome, sending lieutenants in charge of them. Crassus 
aspired to equal the glory of his colleagues in the open field. 
He had gained some success in the war with the slaves 
which persuaded him that he too could be a conqueror; 
and knowing as much of foreign campaigning as the clerks 
in his factories, he intended to use Syria as a base of opera- 
tions against the Parthians, and to extend the frontier to 
the Indus. The Senate had murmured, but Cicero had 
passionately defended Crassus; 4 and as if to show publicly 
how entirely he had now devoted himself to the cause of 
the " Dynasts," he invited Crassus to dine with him the 
day before his departure for the East. 

The position was not wholly pleasant to Cicero. " Self- 
respect in speech, liberty in choosing the course which we 
will pursue, is all gone," he wrote to Lentulus Spinther — 
" gone not more from me than from us all. We must 
assent, as a matter of course, to what a few men say, or we 
must differ from them to no purpose. — The relations of the 
Senate, of the courts of justice, nay, of the whole com- 
monwealth, are changed. — The consular dignity of a firm 
and courageous statesman can no longer be thought of. 

264 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 55-54 

It has been lost by the folly of those who estranged from 
the Senate the compact order of the Equites and a very 
distinguished man (Caesar). " 5 And again: " We must go 
with the times. Those who have played a great part in 
public life have never been able to adhere to the same views 
on all occasions. The art of navigation lies in trimming 
to the storm. When you can reach your harbour by alter- 
ing your course, it is a folly to persevere in struggling 
against the wind. Were I entirely free I should still act 
as I am doing! and when I am invited to my present atti- 
tude by the kindness of one set of men, and am driven to it 
by the injurious conduct of the other, I am content to do 
what I conceive will conduce at once to my own advantage 
and the welfare of the State. — Caesar's influence is enor- 
mous. His wealth is vast. I have the use of both, as if 
they were my own. Nor could I have crushed the con- 
spiracy of a set of villains to ruin me, unless, in addition to 
the defences which I always possess, I had secured the 
good-will of the men in power." 6 

Cicero's conscience could not have been easy when he 
was driven to such laborious apologies. He spoke often 
of intending to withdraw into his family, and devoting his 
time entirely to literature; but he could not bring himself 
to leave the political ferment; and he was possessed besides 
with a passionate desire to revenge himself on those who 
had injured him. An opportunity seemed to present it- 
self. The persons whom he hated most, after Clodius, 
were the two consuls Gabinius and Piso, who had per- 
mitted his exile. They had both conducted themselves 
abominably in the provinces, which they had bought, he 
said, at the price of his blood. Piso had been sent to Mace- 
donia, where he had allowed his army to perish by disease 
and neglect. The frontiers had been overrun with 
brigands, and the outcries of his subjects had been audible 
even in Rome against his tyranny and incapacity. Gabin- 
ius, in Syria, had been more ambitious, and had exposed 
himself to an indignation more violent because more inter- 
ested. At a hint from Pompey, he had restored Ptolemy 


to Egypt on his own authority and without waiting for the 
Senate's sanction, and he had snatched for himself the prize 
for which the chiefs of the Senate had been contending. 
He had broken the law by leading his legions over the 
frontier. He had defeated the feeble Alexandrians, and the 
gratified Ptolemy had rewarded him with the prodigious 
sum of ten thousand talents — a million and a half of Eng- 
lish money. While he thus enriched himself he had irri- 
tated the knights, who might otherwise have supported 
him, by quarrelling with the Syrian revenue farmers, and, 
according to popular scandal, he had plundered the prov- 
ince worse than it had been plundered even by the pirates. 
When so fair a chance was thrown in his way, Cicero 
would have been more than human if he had not availed 
himself of it. He moved in the Senate for the recall of the 
two offenders, and in the finest of his speeches he laid 
bare their reputed iniquities. His position was a delicate 
one — because the senatorial party, could they have had 
their way, would have recalled Caesar also. Gabinius was 
Pompey's favourite, and Piso was Caesar's father-in-law. 
Cicero had no intention of quarrelling with Caesar; be- 
tween his invectives, therefore, he was careful to inter- 
weave the most elaborate compliments to the conqueror 
of Gaul. He dwelt with extraordinary clearness on the 
value of Caesar's achievements. The conquest of Gaul, he 
said, was not the annexation of a province. It was the dis- 
persion of a cloud which had threatened Italy from the 
days of Brennus. To recall Caesar would be madness. 
He wished to remain only to complete his work; the more 
honour to him that he was willing to let the laurels fade 
which were waiting for him at Rome, before he returned to 
wear them. There were persons who would bring him 
back, because they did not love him. They would bring 
him back only to enjoy a triumph. Gaul had been the 
single danger to the Empire. Nature had fortified Italy 
by the Alps. The mountain barrier alone had allowed 
Rome to grow to its present greatness, but the Alps might 
now sink into the earth. Italy had no more fear. 7 

266 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 54 

The orator perhaps hoped that so splendid a vindication 
of Caesar in the midst of his worst enemies might have 
purchased pardon for his onslaught on the baser mem- 
bers of the " Dynastic " faction. He found himself mis- 
taken. His eagerness to revenge his personal wrongs 
compelled him to drink the bitterest cup of humiliation 
which had yet been offered to him. He gained his im- 
mediate purpose. The two governors were recalled in 
disgrace, and Gabinius was impeached under the new 
Julian law for having restored Ptolemy without orders, and 
for the corrupt administration of his province. Cicero 
would naturally have conducted the prosecution; but pres- 
sure of some kind was laid on, which compelled him to 
stand aside. The result of the trial on the first of the two 
indictments was another of those mockeries of justice 
which made the Roman law courts the jest of mankind. 
Pompey threw his shield over his instrument. He used 
his influence freely. The Egyptian spoils furnished a 
fund to corrupt the judges. The speech for the prose- 
cution was so weak as to invite a failure, and Gabinius was 
acquitted by a majority of purchased votes. " You ask me 
how I endure such things," Cicero bitterly wrote, in telling 
the story to Atticus; " well enough, by Hercules, and I am 
entirely pleased with myself. We have lost, my friend, not 
only the juice and blood, but even the colour and shape, of 
a Commonwealth. No decent constitution exists, in which 
I can take a part. How can you put up with such a state 
of things? you will say. Excellently well. I recollect how 
public affairs went a while ago, when I was myself in office, 
and how grateful people were to me. I am not distressed 
now, that the power is with a single man. Those are 
miserable who could not bear to see me successful. I find 
much to console me." 8 " Gabinius is acquitted," he wrote 
to his brother. — " The verdict is so infamous that it is 
thought he will be convicted on the other charge; but, as 
you perceive, the constitution, the Senate, the courts, are 
all nought. There is no honour in any one of us. — Some 
persons, Sallust among them, say that I ought to have 


prosecuted him. I to risk my credit with such a jury! what 
if I had acted, and he had escaped then! but other motives 
influenced me. Pompey would have made a personal quar- 
rel of it with me. He would have come into the city. 9 — He 
would have taken up with Clodius again. I know that I 
was wise, and I hope that you agree with me. I owe Pom- 
pey nothing, and he owes much to me; but in public matters 
(not to put it more strongly) he has not allowed me to 
oppose him; and when I was flourishing and he was less 
powerful than he is now, he let me see what he could do. 
Now when I am not even ambitious of power, and the con- 
stitution is broken down, and Pompey is omnipotent, why 
should I contend with him? Then, says Sallust, I ought 
to have pleased Pompey by defending Gabinius, as he was 
anxious that I should. A nice friend Sallust, who would 
have me push myself into dangerous quarrels, or cover 
myself with eternal infamy! " 10 

Unhappy Cicero, wishing to act honourably, but with- 
out manliness to face the consequences! He knew that 
it would be infamous for him to defend Gabinius, yet at 
the second trial Cicero, who had led the attack on him in 
the Senate, and had heaped invectives on him, the most 
bitter which he ever uttered against man, nevertheless 
actually did defend Gabinius. Perhaps he consoled him- 
self with the certainty that his eloquence would be in vain, 
and that his extraordinary client this time could not escape 
conviction. Any way, he appeared at the bar as Gabinius's 
counsel. The Syrian revenue farmers were present, open- 
mouthed with their accusations. Gabinius was con- 
demned, stripped of his spoils, and sent into banishment. 
Cicero was left with his shame. Nor was this the worst. 
There was still some dregs in the cup, which he was forced 
to drain. Publius Vatinius was a prominent leader of the 
military democratic party, and had often come in collision 
with Cicero. He had been tribune when Caesar was consul, 
and had stood by him against the Senate and Bibulus. 
He had served in Gaul in Caesar's first campaigns, and had 
returned to Rome, at Caesar's instance, to enter for higher 

268 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 54 

office. He had carried the praetorship against Cato; and 
Cicero in one of his speeches had painted him as another 
Clodius or Catiline. When the praetorship was expired, 
he was prosecuted for corruption; and Cicero was once 
more compelled to appear on the other side, and defend 
him, as he had done Gabinius. Caesar and Pompey, wish- 
ing, perhaps, to break completely into harness the brilliant 
but still half unmanageable orator, had so ordered, and 
Cicero had complied. He was ashamed, but had still his 
points of satisfaction. It was a matter of course that, as 
an advocate, he must praise the man whom, a year before, 
he had spattered with ignominy; but he had the pleasure of 
feeling that he was revenging himself on his conservative 
allies, who led the prosecution. " Why I praised Vatin- 
ius," he wrote to Lentulus, " I must beg you not to ask 
either in the case of this or of any other criminal. I put it 
to the judges, that since certain noble lords, my good 
friends, were too fond of my adversary (Clodius), and the 
Senate would go apart with him under my own eyes, and 
would treat him with warmest affection, they must 
allow me to have my Publius (Vatinius), since they 
had theirs (Clodius), and give them a gentle stab in return 
for their cuts at me." " Vatinius was acquitted. Cicero 
was very miserable. " Gods and men approved," he said; 
but his own conscience condemned him, and at this time 
his one consolation, real or pretended, was the friendship 
of Caesar. " Caesar's affectionate letters," he told his 
brother, " are my only pleasure; I attach little consequence 
to his promises; I do not thirst for honours, or regret my 
past glory. I value more the continuance of his good- 
will than the prospect of anything which he may do for me. 
I am withdrawing from public affairs, and giving myself 
to literature. But I am broken-hearted, my dear brother; 
— I am broken-hearted that the constitution is gone, that 
the courts of law are naught: and that now at my time 
of life, when I ought to be leading with authority in the 
Senate, I must be either busy in the Forum pleading, or 


occupying myself with my books at home. The ambition 
of my boyhood — 

" 'Aye to be first, and chief among my peers — ' 

is all departed. Of my enemies, I have left some un- 
assailed, and some I have defended. Not only I may not 
think as I like, but I may not hate as I like, 12 and Caesar is 
the only person who loves me as I should wish to be loved, 
or, as some think, who desires to love me." 13 

The position was the more piteous, because Cicero could 
not tell how events would fall out after all. Crassus was 
in the East, with uncertain prospects there. Caesar was 
in the midst of a dangerous war, and might be killed or 
might die. Pompey was but a weak vessel; a distinguished 
soldier, perhaps, but without the intellect or the resolution 
to control a proud, resentful, and supremely unscrupulous 
aristocracy. In spite of Caesar's victories, his most enven- 
omed enemy, Domitius Ahenobarbus, had succeeded after 
all in carrying one of the consulships for the year 54. The 
popular party had secured the other, indeed; but they had 
returned Appius Claudius, Clodius's brother, and this was 
but a poor consolation. In the year that was to follow, the 
conservatives had bribed to an extent which astonished the 
most cynical observers. Each season the elections were 
growing more corrupt; but the proceedings on both sides 
in the fall of 54 were the most audacious that had ever been 
known, the two reigning consuls taking part, and encour- 
aging and assisting in scandalous bargains. " All the can- 
diates have bribed," wrote Cicero; " but they will be all 
acquitted, and no one will ever be found guilty again. The 
two consuls are branded with infamy." Memmius, the 
popular competitor, at Pompey's instance, exposed in the 
Senate an arrangement which the consuls had entered into 
to secure the returns. The names and signatures were 
produced. The scandal was monstrous, and could not be 
denied. The better kind of men began to speak of a Dic- 
tatorship as the only remedy; and although the two con- 
servative candidates were declared elected for 53, and were 

270 JULIUS CJESXR [b. c. 53 

allowed to enter on their offices, there was a general feeling 
that a crisis had arrived, and that a great catastrophe could 
not be very far off. The form which it might assume was 
the problem of the hour. 

Cicero, speaking two years before on the broad condi- 
tions of his time, had used these remarkable words: " No 
issue can be anticipated from discords among the leading 
men, except either universal ruin, or the rule of a con- 
queror, or a monarchy. There exists at present an uncon- 
cealed hatred implanted and fastened into the minds of our 
leading politicians. They are at issue among themselves. 
Opportunities are caught for mutual injury. Those who 
are in the second rank watch for the chances of the time. 
Those who might do better are afraid of the words and 
designs of their enemies." 14 

The discord had been suspended, and the intrigues tem- 
porarily checked, by the combination of Caesar and Pom- 
pey with Crassus, the chief of the moneyed commoners. 
Two men of equal military reputation, and one of them 
from his greater age and older services expecting and 
claiming precedency, do not easily work together. For 
Pompey to witness the rising glory of Caesar, and to feel 
in his own person the superior ascendency of Caesar's char- 
acter, without an emotion of jealousy, would have de- 
manded a degree of virtue which few men have ever pos- 
sessed. They had been united so far by identity of convic- 
tion, by a military detestation of anarchy, by a common 
interest in wringing justice from the Senate for the army 
and people, by a pride in the greatness of their country, 
which they were determined to uphold. These motives, 
however, might not long have borne the strain but for 
other ties, which had cemented their union. Pompey had 
married Caesar's daughter, to whom he was passionately 
attached; and the personal competition between them was 
neutralized by the third element of the capitalist party rep- 
resented by Crassus, which if they quarrelled would secure 
the supremacy of the faction to which Crassus attached 
himself. There was no jealousy on Caesar's part. There 


was no occasion for it. Caesar's fame was rising. Pom- 
pey had added nothing to his past distinctions, and the 
glory pales which does not grow in lustre. No man who 
had once been the single object of admiration, who had 
tasted the delight of being the first in the eyes of his coun- 
trymen, could find himself compelled to share their ap- 
plause with a younger rival without experiencing a pang. 
So far Pompey had borne the trial well. He was, on the 
whole, notwithstanding the Egyptian scandal, honourable 
and constitutionally disinterested. He was immeasurably 
superior to the fanatic Cato, to the shifty Cicero, or the 
proud and worthless leaders of the senatorial oligarchy. 
Had the circumstances remained unchanged, the severity 
of the situation might have been overcome. But two mis- 
fortunes coming near upon one another broke the ties of 
family connection, and by destroying the balance of parties 
laid Pompey open to the temptation of patrician intrigue. 
In the year 54 Caesar's great mother Aurelia, and his 
daughter Julia, Pompey's wife, both died. A child which 
Julia had borne to Pompey died also, and the powerful if 
silent influence of two remarkable women, and the joint 
interest in an infant, who would have been Caesar's heir 
as well as Pompey's, were swept away together. 

The political link was broken immediately after by a 
public disaster unequalled since the last consular army was 
overthrown by the Gauls on the Rhone; and the capitalists, 
left without a leader, drifted away to their natural allies in 
the Senate. Crassus had taken the field in the East, with 
a wild ambition of becoming in his turn a great conqueror. 
At first all had gone well with him. He had raised a vast 
treasure. He had plundered the wealthy temples in Phoe- 
nicia and Palestine to fill his military chest. He had able 
officers with him; not the least among them his son Publius 
Crassus, who had served with such distinction under Caesar/ 
He crossed the Euphrates at the head of a magnificent 
army, expecting to carry all before him with the ease of an 
Alexander. Relying on his own idle judgment, he was 
tempted in the midst of a burning summer into the water- 

272 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 53 

less plains of Mesopotamia; and on the 15th of June the 
great Roman millionaire met his miserable end, the whole 
force, with the exception of a few scattered cohorts, being 
totally annihilated. 

The catastrophe in itself was terrible. The Parthians 
had not provoked the war. The East was left defenceless; 
and the natural expectation was that, in their just revenge, 
they might carry fire and sword through Asia Minor and 
Syria. It is not the least remarkable sign of the times that 
the danger failed to touch the patriotism of the wretched 
factions in Rome. The one thought of the leaders of the 
Senate was to turn the opportunity to advantage, wrest 
the constitution free from military dictation, shake off the 
detested laws of Caesar, and revenge themselves on the 
author of them. The hope was in Pompey. If Pompey 
could be won over from Caesar, the army would be divided. 
Pompey, they well knew, unless he had a stronger head 
than his own to guide him, could be used till the victory 
was won, and then be thrust aside. It was but too easy to 
persuade him that he was the greatest man in the Empire; 
and that as the chief of a constitutional government, and 
with the Senate at his side, he would inscribe his name in 
the annals of his country as the restorer of Roman liberty. 

The intrigue could not be matured immediately. The 
aristocracy had first to overcome their own animosities 
against Pompey, and Pompey himself was generous, and 
did not yield to the first efforts of seduction. The smaller 
passions were still at work among the baser senatorial 
chiefs, and the appetite for provinces and pillage. The 
Senate, even while Crassus was alive, had carried the con- 
sulships for 53 by the most infamous corruption. They 
meant now to attack Caesar in earnest, and their energies 
were addressed to controlling the elections for the next 
year. Milo was one of the candidates; and Cicero, who 
was watching the political current, reverted to his old 
friendship for him, and became active in the canvass. Milo 
was not a creditable ally. He already owed half a million 
of money, and Cicero, who was anxious for his reputation, 

B. c. 53] MILO 273 

endeavoured to keep him within the bounds of decency. 
But Milo's mind was fastened on the province which was 
to redeem his fortunes, and he flung into bribery what was 
left of his wrecked credit with the desperation of a gambler. 
He had not been praetor, and thus was not legally eligible 
for the consulate. This, however, was forgiven. He had 
been aedile in 54, and as aedile he had already been magnifi- 
cent in prodigality. But to secure the larger prize, he 
gave as a private citizen the most gorgeous entertainment 
which even in that monstrous age the city had yet won- 
dered at. " Doubly, trebly foolish of him," thought Cic- 
ero, "for he was not called on to go to such expense, and he 
has not the means." " Milo makes me very anxious," he 
wrote to his brother. " I hope all will be made right by 
his consulship. I shall exert myself for him as much as I 
did for myself; 15 but he is quite mad," Cicero added; " he 
has spent 30,0001. on his games." Mad, but still, in Cic- 
ero's opinion, well fitted for the consulship, and likely to 
get it. All the " good," in common with himself, were 
most anxious for Milo's success. The people would vote 
for him as a reward for his spectacles, and the young and 
influential for his efforts to secure their favour. 16 

The reappearance of the " Boni," the " Good," in 
Cicero's letters marks the turn of the tide again in his own 
mind. The " good," or the senatorial party, were once 
more the objects of his admiration. The affection for 
Caesar was passing off. 

A more objectionable candidate than Milo could hardly 
have been found. He was no better than a patrician glad- 
iator, and the choice of such a man was a sufficient indica- 
tion of the Senate's intentions. The popular party led by 
the tribunes made a sturdy resistance. There were storms 
in the Curia, tribunes imprisoning senators, and the senate 
tribunes. Army officers suggested the election of military 
tribunes (lieutenant-generals), instead of consuls; and 
when they failed, they invited Pompey to declare himself 
Dictator. The Senate put on mourning, as a sign of ap- 
proaching calamity. Pompey calmed their fears by de- 

274 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 53-52 

dining so ambitious a position. But as it was obvious 
that Milo's chief object was a province which he might 
misgovern, Pompey forced the Senate to pass a resolution, 
that consuls and praetors must wait five years from their 
term of office before a province was to be allotted to them. 
The temptation to corruption might thus in some degree 
be diminished. But senatorial resolutions did not pass for 
much, and what a vote had enacted a vote could repeal. 
The agitation continued. The tribunes, when the time 
came, forbade the elections. The year expired. The old 
magistrates went out of office, and Rome was left again 
without legitimate functionaries to carry on the govern- 
ment. All the offices fell vacant together. 

Now once more Clodius was reappearing on the scene. 
He had been silent for two years, content or constrained 
to leave the control of the democracy to the three chiefs. 
One of them was now gone. The more advanced section 
of the party was beginning to distrust Pompey. Clodius, 
their favourite representative, had been put forward for the 
praetorship, while Milo was aspiring to be made consul, 
and Clodius had prepared a fresh batch of laws to be sub- 
mitted to the sovereign people; one of which (if Cicero did 
not misrepresent it to inflame the aristocracy) was a meas- 
ure of some kind for the enfranchisement of the slaves, or 
perhaps of the sons of slaves. 17 He was as popular as ever. 
He claimed to be acting for Caesar, and was held certain 
of success; if he was actually praetor, such was his extraor- 
dinary influence, and such was the condition of things in 
the city, that if Milo was out of the way he could secure 
consuls of his own way of thinking, and thus have the 
whole constitutional power in his hands. 18 

Thus both sides had reasons for fearing and postponing 
the elections. Authority, which had been weak before, 
was now extinct. Rome was in a state of formal anarchy, 
and the factions of Milo and Clodius fought daily, as be- 
fore, in the streets, with no one to interfere with them. 

Violent humours come naturally to a violent end. Milo 
had long before threatened to kill Clodius. Cicero had 

B . c. 52] MURDER OF CLODIUS 275 

openly boasted of his friend's intention to do it, and had 
spoken of Clodius in the Senate itself as Milo's predestined 
victim. On the evening of the 13th of January, while the 
uncertainty about the elections was at its height, Clodius 
was returning from his country house, which was a few 
miles from Rome on the " Appian Way." Milo happened 
to be travelling accidentally down the same road on his way 
to Lanuvium (Civita Indovina), and the two rivals and 
their escorts met. Milo's party was the largest. The 
leaders passed one another, evidently not intending a colli- 
sion, but their followers, who were continually at sword's 
point, came naturally to blows. Clodius rode back to see 
what was going on; he was attacked and wounded, and 
took refuge in a house on the roadside. The temptation 
to make an end of his enemy was too strong for Milo to re- 
sist. To have hurt Clodius would, he thought, be as dan- 
gerous as to have made an end of him. His blood was up. 
The " predestined victim," who had thwarted him for so 
many years, was within his reach. The house was forced 
open. Clodius was dragged out bleeding, and was de- 
spatched, and the body was left lying where he fell, where 
a senator, named Sextus Tedius, who was passing an hour 
or two after, found it, and carried it the same night to 
Rome. The little which is known of Clodius comes only 
through Cicero's denunciations, which formed or coloured 
later Roman traditions; and it is thus difficult to compre- 
hend the affection which the people felt for him; but of the 
fact there can be no doubt at all; he was the representa- 
tive of their political opinions, the embodiment, next to 
Caesar, of their practical hopes; and his murder was ac- 
cepted as a declaration of an aristocratic war upon them, 
and the first blow in another massacre. On the following 
day, in the winter morning, the tribunes brought the body 
into the Forum. A vast crowd had collected to see it, 
and it was easy to lash them into fury. They dashed in 
the doors of the adjoining Senate-house, they carried in the 
bier, made a pile of chairs and benches and tables, and 
burnt all that remained of Clodius in the ashes of the Sen- 

276 JULIUS CiESAR [ B . c. 52 

ate-house itself. The adjoining temples were consumed 
in the conflagration. The Senate collected elsewhere. 
They put on a bold front, they talked of naming an In- 
terrex — which they ought to have done before — and of 
holding the elections instantly, now that Clodius was gone. 
Milo still hoped, and the aristocracy still hoped for Milo. 
But the storm was too furious. Pompey came in with a 
body of troops, restored order, and took command of the 
city. The preparations for the election were quashed. 
Pompey still declined the Dictatorship, but he was named, 
or he named himself, sole consul, and at once appointed a 
commission to inquire into the circumstances of Milo's can- 
vass, and the corruption which had gone along with it. 
Milo himself was arrested and put on his trial for the mur- 
der. Judges were chosen who could be trusted, and to 
prevent intimidation the court was occupied by soldiers. 
Cicero undertook his friend's defence, but was unnerved 
by the stern, grim faces with which he was surrounded. 
The eloquent tongue forgot its office. He stammered, 
blundered, and sat down. 19 The consul expectant was 
found guilty and banished, to return a few years after like 
a hungry wolf in the civil war, and to perish as he de- 
served. Pompey's justice was even-handed. He pun- 
ished Milo, but the Senate-house and temples were not to 
be destroyed without retribution equally severe. The trib- 
unes who had led on the mob were deposed, and suffered 
various penalties. Pompey acted with a soldier's abhor- 
rence of disorder, and so far, he did what Caesar approved 
and would himself have done in Pompey's place. 

But there followed symptoms which showed that there 
were secret influences at work with Pompey, and that he 
was not the man which he had been. He had taken the 
consulate alone; but a single consul was an anomaly; as 
soon as order was restored it was understood that he meant 
to choose a colleague; and Senate and people were watch- 
ing to see whom he would select as an indication of his 
future attitude. Half the world expected that he would 
name Caesar, but half the world was disappointed. He 


took Metellus Scipio, who had been the Senate's second 
candidate by the side of Milo, and had been as deeply con- 
cerned in bribery as Milo himself; shortly after, and with 
still more significance, he replaced Julia by Metellus 
Scipio's daughter, the widow of young Publius Crassus, 
who had fallen with his father. 

Pompey, however, did not break with Caesar, and did 
not appear to intend to break with him. Communications 
passed between them on the matter of the consulship. The 
tribunes had pressed him as Pompey's colleague. Caesar 
himself, being then in the North of Italy, had desired, on 
being consulted, that the demand might not be insisted on. 
He had work still before him in Gaul which he could not 
leave unfinished; but he made a request himself that must 
be noticed, since the civil war formally grew out of it, and 
Pompey gave a definite pledge, which was afterwards 

One of the engagements at Lucca had been that when 
Caesar's command should have expired he was to be again 
consul. His term had still three years to run; but many 
things might happen in three years. A party in the Sen- 
ate were bent on his recall. They might succeed in per- 
suading the people to consent to it. And Caesar felt, as 
Pompey had felt before him, that, in the unscrupulous hu- 
mour of his enemies at Rome, he might be impeached or 
killed on his return, as Clodius had been, if he came back 
a private citizen unprotected by office to sue for his elec- 
tion. Therefore he had stipulated at Lucca that his name 
might be taken and that votes might be given for him while 
he was still with his army. On Pompey's taking the power 
into his hands, Caesar, while abandoning any present claim 
to share it, reminded him of this understanding, and re- 
quired at the same time that it should be renewed in some 
authoritative form. The Senate, glad to escape on any 
terms from the present conjunction of the men whom they 
hoped to divide, appeared to consent. Cicero himself 
made a journey to Ravenna to see Caesar about it and make 
a positive arrangement with him. Pompey submitted the 

278 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 52 

condition to the assembly of the people, by whom it was 
solemnly ratified. Every precaution was observed which 
would give the promise that Caesar might be elected con- 
sul in his absence the character of a binding engagement. 20 
It was observed with some surprise that Pompey, not 
long after, proposed and carried a law forbidding elec- 
tions of this irregular kind, and insisting freshly on the 
presence of the candidates in person. Caesar's case was 
not reserved as an exception or in any way alluded to. 
And when a question was asked on the subject, the excuse 
given was that it had been overlooked by accident. Such 
accidents require to be interpreted by the use which is 
made of them. 


1 Page 262. Ad Quintum Fratrem, ii. 15. 

2 Page 263 4 ' Ego enim ne pilo quidem minus me amabo." — Ibid., ii. 
16. Other editions read " te." 

3 Page 263. " Videor id judicio facere jam enim debeo: sed amore 
sum incensus." — Ibid,, iii. 1. 

4 Page 263. Ad Crassum. •' Ad Familiares," v. 8. 

5 Page 264. Ad Lentulum. ■« Ad Fam.," i. 8. 

6 Page 264. Ad Lentulum. •■ Ad Fam.," i. 9. 

7 Page 265. De Provinciis Consularibus. 

8 Page 266. To Atticus, iv. 16. 

9 Page 267. Pompey, as proconsul with a province, was residing out- 
side the walls. 

10 Page 267. Ad Quintum Fratrem, iii. 4. 

11 Page 268. Ad Familiares, i. 9. 

12 Page 269. " Meum non modo animum, sed ne odium quidem esse 
liberum." — Ad Quintum Fratrem, iii. 5. 

13 Page 269. See the story in a letter to Atticus, lib. iv. 16-17. 

14 Page 270. De Haruspicum Responsis. 

15 Page 273. " Angitunus Milo. Sed velim finem afferat consulatus: 
in quo enitar non minus, quam sum enisus in nostro." — Ad Quintum 
Fratrem, iii. 9. 

16 Page 273. Ad Familiares, ii. 6. 

"Page 274. " Incidebantur jam domi leges quae nos nostris servis 
addicerent. . . Oppressisset omnia, possideret, teneret lege nova, quae 
est inventa apud eum cum reliquis legibus Clodianis. Servos nostros 
libertos suos fecisset." — Pro Milone, 32. 33. These strong expressions 
can hardly refer to a proposed enfranchisement of the libertini, or sons 
of freedmen, like Horace's father. 

18 Page 274. " Caesaris potentiam suam esse dicebat. . . An consules 


in praetore coercendo fortes fuissent ? Primum, Milone occiso habuisset 
suos consules." — Pro Milone, 33. 

19 Page 276. The Oratio pro Milone, published afterwards by Cicero, 
was the speech he intended to deliver and did not. 

20 Page 278. Suetonius, De Vita Julii Caesaris. Cicero again and 
again acknowledges in his letters to Atticus that the engagement had 
really been made. Writing to Atticus (vii. 1), Cicero says: "Non est 
locus ad tergiversandum. Contra Caesarem? Ubi illae sunt densae 
dexterae? Nam ut illi hoc liceret adjuvi rogatus ab ipso Ravennas de 
Caslio tribuno plebis. Ab ipso autem ? Etiam a Cnaeo nostro in illo 
divino tertio consulatu. Aliter sensero ? " 


THE conquest of Gaul had been an exploit of extraor- 
dinary military difficulty. The intricacy of the 
problem had been enhanced by the venom of a do- 
mestic faction, to which the victories of a democratic gen- 
eral were more unwelcome than national disgrace. The 
discomfiture of Crassus had been more pleasant news to 
the Senate than the defeat of Ariovistus, and the passionate 
hope of the aristocracy had been for some opportunity 
which would enable them to check Caesar in his career of 
conquest and bring him home to dishonour and perhaps 
impeachment. They had failed. The efforts of the Gauls 
to maintain or recover their independence had been suc- 
cessively beaten down, and at the close of the summer of 
53 Caesar had returned to the North of Italy believing 
that the organization of the province which he had added 
to the Empire was all that remained to be accomplished. 
But Roman civilians had followed in the van of the armies. 
Roman traders had penetrated into the towns on the Seine 
and the Loire, and the curious Celts had learnt from them 
the distractions of their new rulers. Caesar's situation was 
as well understood among the y£dui and the Sequani as in 
the clubs and coteries of the capital of the Empire, and the 
turn of events was watched with equal anxiety. The vic- 
tory over Sabinus, sharply avenged as it had been, kept 
alive the hope that their independence might yet be re- 
covered. The disaffection of the preceding summer had 
been trampled out, but the ashes of it were still smoulder- 
ing; and when it became known that Clodius, who was re- 
garded as Caesar's tribune, had been killed, that the Sen- 
ate was in power again, and that Italy was threatened with 
civil convulsions, their passionate patriotism kindled once 
more into flame. Sudden in their resolutions, they did not 



pause to watch how the balance would incline. Caesar was 
across the Alps. Either he would be deposed, or civil 
war would detain him in Italy. His legions were scattered 
between Treves, Auxerre, and Sens, far from the Roman 
frontier. A simultaneous rising would cut them off from 
support, and they could be starved out or overwhelmed in 
detail, as Sabinus had been at Tongres and Cicero had 
almost been at Charleroy. Intelligence was swiftly ex- 
changed. The chiefs of all the tribes established com- 
munications with each other. They had been deeply 
affected by the execution of Acco, the patriotic leader of 
the Carnutes. The death of Acco was an intimation that 
they were Roman subjects, and were to be punished as 
traitors if they disobeyed a Roman command. They 
buried their own dissensions. Except among the ^Edui 
there was no longer a Roman faction and a patriot faction. 
The whole nation was inspired by a simultaneous impulse 
to snatch the opportunity, and unite in a single effort to 
assert their freedom. The understanding was complete. 
A day was fixed for a universal rising. The Carnutes be- 
gan by a massacre which would cut off possibility of re- 
treat, and, in revenge for Acco, slaughtered a party of 
Roman civilians who were engaged in business at Gien. 1 
A system of signals had been quietly arranged. The mas- 
sacre at Gien was known in a few hours in the South, and 
the Auvergne country, which had hitherto been entirely 
peaceful, rose in reply, under a young high-born chief 
named Vercingetorix. Gergovia, the principal town of 
the Arverni, was for the moment undecided. 2 The elder 
men there, who had known the Romans long, were against 
immediate action; but Vercingetorix carried the people 
away with him. His name had not appeared in the earlier 
campaigns, but his father had been a man of note beyond 
the boundaries of Auvergne; and he must himself have 
had a wide reputation among the Gauls, for everywhere, 
from the Seine to the Garonne, he was accepted as chief of 
the national confederacy. Vercingetorix had high ability 
and real organizing powers. He laid out a plan for the 

282 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 52 

general campaign. He fixed a contingent of men and 
arms which each tribe was to supply, and failure brought 
instantaneous punishment. Mild offences were visited 
with the loss of eyes or ears; neglect of a more serious sort 
with death by fire in the wicker tower. Between enthu- 
siasm and terror he had soon an army at his command, 
which he could increase indefinitely at his need. Part he 
left to watch the Roman province and prevent Caesar, if 
he should arrive, from passing through. With part he 
went himself to watch the ^Edui, the great central race, 
where Roman authority had hitherto prevailed unshaken, 
but among whom, as he well knew, he. had the mass of the 
people on his side. The ^Edui were hesitating. They 
called their levies under arms, as if to oppose him, but 
they withdrew them again; and to waver at such a moment 
was to yield to the stream. 

The Gauls had not calculated without reason on Caesar's 
embarrassments. The death of Clodius had been followed 
by the burning of the Senate-house and by many weeks of 
anarchy. To leave Italy at such a moment might be to 
leave it a prey to faction or civil war. His anxiety was 
relieved at last by hearing that Pompey had acted, and that 
order was restored; and seeing no occasion for his own in- 
terference, and postponing the agitation for his second 
consulship, he hurned back to encounter the final and con- 
vulsive effort of the Celtic race to preserve their liberties. 
The legions were as yet in no danger. They were dis- 
persed in the North of France, far from the scene of the 
present rising, and the Northern tribes had suffered too 
desperately in the past years to be in a condition to stir 
without assistance. But how was Caesar to join them ? The 
garrisons in the province could not be moved. If he sent 
for the army to come across to him, Vercingetorix would 
attack them on the march, and he could not feel confident 
of the result; while the line of the old frontier of the prov- 
ince was in the hands of the insurgents, or of tribes who 
could not be trusted to resist the temptation, if he passed 
through himself without more force than the province 


could supply. But Caesar had a resource which never 
failed him in the daring swiftness of his own movements. 
He sent for the troops which were left beyond the Alps. 
He had a few levies with him to fill the gaps in the old le- 
gions, and after a rapid survey of the stations on the pro- 
vincial frontier he threw himself upon the passes of the 
Cevennes. It was still winter. The snow lay six feet 
thick on the mountains, and the roads at that season were 
considered impracticable even for single travellers. The 
Auvergne rebels dreamt of nothing so little as of Caesar's 
coming upon them at such a time and from such a quarter. 
He forced his way. He fell on them while they were lying 
in imagined security, Vercingetorix and his army being 
absent watching the ^Edui, and letting loose his cavalry, 
he laid their country waste. But Vercingetorix, he knew, 
would fly back at the news of his arrival; and he had al- 
ready made his further plans. He formed a strong in- 
trenched camp, where he left Decimus Brutus in charge, 
telling him that he would return as quickly as possible; 
and, unknown to anyone, lest the troops should lose cour- 
age at parting with him, he flew across through an enemy's 
country with a handful of attendants to Vienne, on the 
Rhone, where some cavalry from the province had been 
sent to wait for him. Vercingetorix, supposing him still 
to be in the Auvergne, thought only of the camp of 
Brutus; and Caesar, riding day and night through the 
doubtful territories of the ^Edui, reached the two legions 
which were quartered near Auxerre. Thence he sent for 
the rest to join him, and he was at the head of his army 
before Vercingetorix knew that only Brutus was in front 
of him. The ^Edui, he trusted, would now remain faithful. 
But the problem before him was still most intricate. The 
grass had not begun to grow. Rapid movement was es- 
sential to prevent the rebel confederacy from consolidating 
itself; but rapid movements with a large force required sup- 
plies; and whence were the supplies to come? Some risks 
had to be run, but to delay was the most dangerous of all. 
On the defeat of the Helvetii, Caesar had planted a colony 

284 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 52 

of them at Gorgobines, near Nevers, on the Loire. These 
colonists, called Boii, had refused to take part in the rising; 
and Vercingetorix, turning in contempt from Brutus, had 
gone off to punish them. Caesar ordered the iEdui to fur- 
nish his commissariat, sent word to the Boii that he was 
coming to their relief, swept through the Senones, that he 
might leave no enemy in his rear, and then advanced on 
Gien, where the Roman traders had been murdered, and 
which the Carnutes still occupied in force. There was a 
bridge there over the Loire, by which they tried to escape 
in the night. Caesar had beset the passage. He took the 
whole of them prisoners, plundered and burnt the town, 
gave the spoil to his troops, and then crossed the river and 
went up to help the Boii. He took Nevers. Vercin- 
getorix, who was hastening to its relief, ventured his 
first battle with him; but the cavalry, on which the 
Gauls most depended, were scattered by Caesar's German 
horse. He was entirely beaten, and Caesar turned next to 
Avaricum (Bourges), a rich and strongly fortified town of 
the Bituriges. From past experience Caesar had gathered 
that the Gauls were easily excited and as easily discour- 
aged. If he could reduce Bourges, he hoped that this 
part of the country would return to its allegiance. Per- 
haps he thought that Vercingetorix himself would give up 
the struggle. But he had to deal with a spirit and with 
a man different from any which he had hitherto encoun- 
tered. Disappointed in his political expectations, baffled 
in strategy, and now defeated in open fight, the young 
chief of the Arverni had only learnt that he had taken a 
wrong mode of carrying on the war, and that he was wast- 
ing his real advantages. Battles in the field he saw that he 
would lose. But the Roman numbers were limited, and 
his were infinite. Tens of thousands of gallant young 
men, with their light, active horses, were eager for any 
work on which he might set them. They could scour the 
country far and wide. They could cut off Caesar's sup- 
plies. They could turn the fields into a blackened wilder- 
ness before him on whichever side he might turn. The 


hearts of the people were with him. They consented to a 
universal sacrifice. They burnt their farmsteads. They 
burnt their villages. Twenty towns (so called) of the 
Bituriges were consumed in a single day. The tribes ad- 
joining caught the enthusiasm. The horizon at night was 
a ring of blazing fires. Vercingetorix was for burning 
Bourges also; but it was the sacred home of the Bituriges, 
the one spot which they implored to be allowed to save, 
the most beautiful city in all Gaul. Rivers defended it on 
three sides, and on the fourth there were swamps and 
marshes which could be passed only by a narrow ridge. 
Within the walls the people had placed the best of their 
property, and Vercingetorix, against his judgment, con- 
sented, in pity for their entreaties, that Avaricum should 
be defended. A strong garrison was left inside. Ver- 
cingetorix intrenched himself in the forests sixteen miles 
distant, keeping watch over Caesar's communications. 
The place could only be taken by regular approaches, dur- 
ing which the army had to be fed. The ^Edui were grow- 
ing negligent. The feeble Boii, grateful, it seemed, for 
Caesar's treatment of them, exerted themselves to the ut- 
most, but their small resources were soon exhausted. For 
many days the legions were without bread. The cattle had 
been driven into the woods. It came at last to actual 
famine. 3 " But not one word was heard from them," says 
Caesar, " unworthy of the majesty of the Roman people 
or their own earlier victories.' , He told them that if the 
distress became unbearable he would raise the siege. 
With one voice they entreated him to persevere. They 
had served many years with him, they said, and had 
never abandoned any enterprise which they had under- 
taken. They were ready to endure any degree of hard- 
ship before they would leave unavenged their countrymen 
who had been murdered at Gien. 

Vercingetorix, knowing that the Romans were in diffi- 
culties, ventured nearer. Caesar surveyed his position. 
It had been well chosen behind a deep morass. The le- 
gions clamoured to be allowed to advance and attack him, 

286 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 52 

but a victory, he saw, would be dearly purchased. No 
condemnation could be too severe for him, he said, if he 
did not hold the lives of his soldiers dearer than his own 
interest, 4 and he led them back without indulging their 

The siege work was unexpectedly difficult. The inhabi- 
tants of the Loire country were skilled artisans, trained in 
mines and iron works. The walls, built of alternate lay- 
ers of stone and timber, were forty feet in thickness, and 
could neither be burnt nor driven in with the ram. The 
town could be taken only with the help of an agger — a 
bank of turf and fagots raised against the wall of suffi- 
cient height to overtop the fortifications. The weather 
was cold and wet, but the legions worked with such a will 
that in twenty-five days they had raised their bank at last, 
a hundred yards in width and eighty feet high. As the 
work drew near its end Caesar himself lay out all night 
among the men, encouraging them. One morning at day- 
break he observed that the agger was smoking. The in- 
genious Gauls had undermined it and set it on fire. At 
the same moment they appeared along the walls with pitch- 
balls, torches, and fagots, which they hurled in to feed the 
flames. There was an instant of confusion, but Caesar uni- 
formly had two legions under arms while the rest were 
working. The Gauls fought with a courage which called 
out his warm admiration. He watched them at the points 
of greatest danger falling under the shots from the scor- 
pions, and others stepping undaunted into their places to 
fall in the same way. Their valour was unavailing. They 
were driven in, and the flames were extinguished; the 
agger was level with the walls, and defence was no longer 
possible. The garrison intended to slip away at night 
through the ruins to join their friends outside. The wail- 
ing of the women was heard in the Roman camp, and es- 
cape was made impossible. The morning after, in a tem- 
pest of rain and wind, the place was stormed. The le- 
gionaries, excited by the remembrance of Gien and the 
long resistance, slew every human being that they found, 

B. c. 52] FALL OF AVARICUM 287 

men, women, and children all alike. Out of forty thou- 
sand who were within the walls eight hundred only, that 
had fled at the first sound of the attack, made their way to 
the camp of Vercingetorix. 

Undismayed by the calamity, Vercingetorix made use 
of it to sustain the determination of his followers. He 
pointed out to them that he had himself opposed the de- 
fence. The Romans had defeated them, not by superior 
courage, but by superior science. The heart of the whole 
nation was united to force the Romans out of Gaul, and 
they had only to persevere in a course of action where 
science would be useless, to be sure of success in the end. 
He fell back upon his own country, taking special care of 
the poor creatures who had escaped from the carnage; and 
the effect of the storming of Bourges was to make the na- 
tional enthusiasm hotter and fiercer than before. 

The Romans found in the town large magazines of corn 
and other provisions, which had been laid in for the siege, 
and Caesar remained there some days to refresh his troops. 
The winter was now over. The ^Edui were giving him 
anxiety, and as soon as he could he moved to Decize, a 
frontier town belonging to them on the Loire, almost in 
the very centre of France. The anti-Roman faction were 
growing in influence. He called a council of the princi- 
pal persons, and, to secure the fidelity of so important a 
tribe, he deposed the reigning chief and appointed another 
who had been nominated by the Druids. 5 He lectured the 
^Edui on their duty, bade them furnish him with ten thou- 
sand men, who were to take charge of the commissariat, 
and then divided his army. Labienus, with four legions, 
was sent to compose the country between Sens and Paris. 
He himself, with the remaining six legions, ascended the 
right bank of the Allier towards Gergovia in search of Ver- 
cingetorix. The bridges on the Allier were broken, but 
Caesar seized and repaired one of them and carried his 
army over. 

The town of Gergovia stood on a high plateau, where 
the rivers rise which run into the Loire on one side and 

288 JULIUS C^SAR [B.C. 52 

into the Dordogne on the other. The sides of the hill 
are steep, and only accessible at a very few places, and 
the surrounding neighbourhood is broken with rocky val- 
leys. Vercingetorix lay in force outside, but in a situa- 
tion where he could not be attacked except at a disad- 
vantage, and with his communication with the fortress 
secured. He was departing again from his general plan 
for the campaign in allowing Gergovia to be defended; 
but it was the central home of his own tribe, and the result 
showed that he was right in believing it to be impregnable. 
Caesar saw that it was too strong to be stormed, and that 
it could only be taken after long operations. After a few 
skirmishes he seized a spur of the plateau which cut off the 
garrison from their readiest water-supply, and he formed 
an intrenched camp upon it. He was studying the rest 
of the problem when bad news came that the ^Edui were 
unsteady again. The ten thousand men had been raised 
as he had ordered, but on their way to join him they had 
murdered the Roman officers in charge of them, and were 
preparing to go over to Vercingetorix. Leaving two le- 
gions to guard his works, he intercepted the ^Eduan con- 
tingent, took them prisoners, and protected their lives. In 
his absence Vercingetorix had attacked the camp with de- 
termined fury. The fighting had been desperate, and 
Caesar only returned in time to save it. The reports from 
the yEdui were worse and worse. The patriotic faction 
had the upper hand, and with the same passionate deter- 
mination to commit themselves irrecoverably, which had 
been shown before at Gien, they had massacred every Ro- 
man in their territory. It was no time for delaying over 
a tedious siege: Caesar was on the point of raising it, when 
accident brought on a battle under the walls. An oppor- 
tunity seemed to offer itself of capturing the place by es- 
calade, which part of the army attempted contrary to orders. 
They fought with more than their usual gallantry. The 
whole scene was visible from the adjoining hills, the Celtic 
women, with long, streaming hair, wildly gesticulating on 
the walls. The Romans were driven back with worse loss 


than they had yet met with in Gaul. Forty-six officers 
and seven hundred men had been killed. 

Caesar was never more calm than under a reverse. He 
addressed the legions the next day. He complimented 
their courage, but he said it was for the general and not 
for them to judge when assaults should be tried. He saw 
the facts of the situation exactly as they were. His army 
was divided. Labienus was far away with a separate com- 
mand. The whole of Gaul was in flames. To persevere 
at Gergovia would only be obstinacy, and he accepted the 
single military failure which he met with when present in 
person through the whole of his Gallic campaign. 

Difficulties of all kinds were now thickening. Caesar 
had placed magazines in Nevers, and had trusted them to 
an iEduan garrison. The yEduans burnt the town and 
carried the stores over the Loire to their own strongest 
fortress, Bibracte (Mont Beauvray). The river had risen 
from the melting of the snows, and could not be crossed 
without danger; and to feed the army in its present posi- 
tion was no longer possible. To retreat upon the prov- 
ince would be a confession of defeat. The passes of the 
Cevennes would be swarming with enemies, and Labienus 
with his four legions in the west might be cut off. With 
swift decision he marched day and night to the Loire. He 
found a ford where the troops could cross with the water 
at their armpits. He sent his horse over and cleared the 
banks. The army passed safely. Food enough and in 
plenty was found in the ^Eduans' country, and without 
waiting he pressed on towards Sens to reunite his forces. 
He understood the Gauls, and foresaw what must have 

Labienus, when sent on his separate command, had 
made Sens his head-quarters. All down the Seine the 
country was in insurrection. Leaving the new Italian 
levies at the station, he went with his experienced troops 
down the left bank of the river till he came to the Essonne. 
He found the Gauls intrenched on the other side, and, 
without attempting to force the passage, he marched back 

29O JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 52 

to Melun, where he repaired a bridge which the Gauls had 
broken, crossed over, and descended without interruption 
to Paris. The town had been burnt, and the enemy were 
watching him from the further bank. At this moment he 
heard of the retreat from Gergovia, and of the rebellion of 
the y£dui. Such news, he understood at once, would be 
followed by a rising in Belgium. Report had said that 
Caesar was falling back on the province. He did not be- 
lieve it. Caesar, he knew, would not desert him. His 
own duty, therefore, was to make his way back to Sens. 
But to leave the army of Gauls to accompany his retreat 
across the Seine, with the tribes rising on all sides, was to 
expose himself to the certainty of being intercepted. " In 
these sudden difficulties," says Caesar, " he took counsel 
from the valour of his mind." 6 He had brought a fleet 
of barges with him from Melun. These he sent down un- 
perceived to a point at the bend of the river four miles 
below Paris, and directed them to wait for him there. 
When night fell he detached a few cohorts with orders to 
go up the river with boats as if they were retreating, 
splashing their oars, and making as much noise as possi- 
ble. He himself with three legions stole silently in the 
darkness to his barges, and passed over without being ob- 
served. The Gauls, supposing the whole army to be in 
flight for Sens, were breaking up their camp to follow in 
boisterous confusion. Labienus fell upon them, telling 
the Romans to fight as if Caesar was present in person; and 
the courage with which the Gauls fought in their surprise 
only made the overthrow more complete. The insurrec- 
tion in the northwest was for the moment paralyzed, and 
Labienus, secured by his ingenious and brilliant victory, 
returned to his quarters without further accident. There 
Caesar came to him as he expected, and the army was once 
more together. 

Meanwhile the failure at Gergovia had kindled the en- 
thusiasm of the central districts into white heat. The 
^Edui, the most powerful of all the tribes, were now at one 
with their countrymen, and Bibracte became the focus of 

B. c. 52] ALESIA 29I 

the national army. The young Vercingetorix was elected 
sole commander, and his plan, as before, was to starve the 
Romans out. Flying bodies harassed the borders of the 
province, so that no reinforcements could reach them from 
the south. Caesar, however, amidst his conquests had the 
art of making staunch friends. What the province could 
not supply he obtained from his allies across the Rhine, 
and he furnished himself with bodies of German cavalry, 
which when mounted on Roman horses proved invaluable. 
In the new form which the insurrection had assumed the 
^Edui were the first to be attended to. Caesar advanced 
leisurely upon them, through the high country at the rise 
of the Seine and the Marne, towards Alesia, or Alice St. 
Reine. Vercingetorix watched him at ten miles' distance. 
He supposed him to be making for the province, and his 
intention was that Caesar should never reach it. The Celts 
at all times have been fond of emphatic protestations. 
The young heroes swore a solemn oath that they would 
not see wife or children or parents more till they had rid- 
den twice through the Roman army. In this mood they 
encountered Caesar in the valley of the Vingeanne, a river 
which falls into the Saone, and they met the fate which 
necessarily befell them when their ungovernable multi- 
tudes engaged the legions in the open field. They were 
defeated with enormous loss: not they riding through the 
Roman army, but themselves ridden over and hewn down 
by the German horsemen and sent flying for fifty miles 
over the hills into Alice St. Reine. Caesar followed close 
behind, driving Vercingetorix under the lines of the fort- 
ress; and the siege of Alesia, one of the most remarkable 
exploits in all military history, was at once undertaken. 

Alesia, like Gergovia, is on a hill sloping off all round, 
with steep and, in places, precipitous sides. It lies between 
two small rivers, the Ose and the Oserain, both of which 
fall into the Brenne and thence into the Seine. Into this 
peninsula, with the rivers on each side of him, Vercinget- 
orix had thrown himself with eighty thousand men. 
Alesia as a position was impregnable except to famine. 

292 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 52 

The water-supply was secure. The position was of extra- 
ordinary strength. The rivers formed natural trenches. 
Below the town to the east they ran parallel for 
three miles through an open alluvial plain before they 
reached the Brenne. In every other direction rose rocky 
hills of equal height with the central plateau, originally 
perhaps one wide tableland, through which the waters had 
ploughed out the valleys. To attack Vercingetorix where 
he had placed himself was out of the question; but to block- 
ade him there, to capture the leader of the insurrection 
and his whole army, and so in one blow make an end with 
it, on a survey of the situation seemed not impossible. The 
Gauls had thought of nothing less than of being besieged. 
The provisions laid in could not be considerable, and so 
enormous a multitude could not hold out many days. 

At once the legions were set to work cutting trenches or 
building walls as the form of the ground allowed. Camps 
were formed at different spots, and twenty-three strong 
blockhouses at the points which were least defensible. 
The lines where the circuit was completed were eleven 
miles long. The part most exposed was the broad level 
meadow which spread out to the west towards the Brenne 
river. Vercingetorix had looked on for a time, not under- 
standing what was happening to him. When he did 
understand it, he made desperate efforts on his side to 
break the net before it closed about him. But he could 
do nothing. The Gauls could not be brought to face the 
Roman intrenchments. Their cavalry were cut to pieces 
by the German horse. The only hope was from help with- 
out, and before the lines were entirely finished horsemen 
were sent out with orders to ride for their lives into every 
district in Gaul and raise the entire nation. The crisis had 
come. If the countrymen of Vercingetorix were worthy 
of their fathers, if the enthusiasm with which they had risen 
for freedom was not a mere emotion, but the expression of 
a real purpose, their young leader called on them to come 
now, every man of them, and seize Caesar in the trap into 
which he had betrayed himself. If, on the other hand, 

B. c. 52] ALESIA 293 

they were careless, if they allowed him and his eighty thou- 
sand men to perish without an effort to save them, the in- 
dependence which they had ceased to deserve would be 
lost forever. He had food, he bade the messengers say, 
for thirty days; by thrifty management it might be made 
to last a few days longer. In thirty days he should look 
for relief. 

The horsemen sped away like the bearers of the fiery 
cross. Caesar learnt from deserters that they had gone out, 
and understood the message which they carried. Already 
he was besieging an army far outnumbering his own. If 
he persevered, he knew that he might count with certainty 
on being attacked by a second army immeasurably larger. 
But the time allowed for the collection of so many men 
might also serve to prepare for their reception. Vercin- 
getorix said rightly that the Romans won their victories, 
not by superior courage, but by superior science. The 
same power of measuring the exact facts of the situation 
which determined Caesar to raise the siege of Gergovia 
decided him to hold on at Alesia. He knew exactly, to 
begin with, how long Vercingetorix could hold out. It 
was easy for him to collect provisions within his lines which 
would feed his own army a few days longer. Fortifica- 
tions the same in kind as those which prevented the be- 
sieged from breaking out would equally serve to keep the 
assailants off. His plan was to make a second line of 
works — an exterior line as well as an interior line; and as 
the extent to be defended would thus be doubled, he made 
them of a peculiar construction, to enable one man to do the 
work of two. There is no occasion to describe the rows 
of ditches, dry and wet, the staked pitfalls, the cervi, 
pronged instruments, like the branching horns of a stag; 
the stimuli, barbed spikes treacherously concealed to im- 
pale the unwary and hold him fast when caught, with which 
the ground was sown in irregular rows; the vallus and the 
lorica, and all the varied contrivances of Roman engineer- 
ing genius. Military students will read the particulars for 
themselves in Caesar's own language. Enough that the 

294 JULIUS C^SAR [ E . c . 52 

work was done within the time, with the legions in perfect 
good humour, and giving jesting names to the new instru- 
ments of torture as Caesar invented them. Vercingetorix 
now and then burst out on the working parties, but pro- 
duced no effect. They knew what they were to expect 
when the thirty days were out; but they knew their com- 
mander, and had absolute confidence in his judgment. 

Meanwhile, on all sides, the Gauls were responding to 
the call. From every quarter, even from far off parts of 
Belgium, horse and foot were streaming along the roads. 
Commius of Arras, Caesar's old friend, who had gone with 
him to Britain, was caught with the same frenzy, and was 
hastening among the rest to help to end him. At last two 
hundred and fifty thousand of the best fighting men that 
Gaul could produce had collected at the appointed ren- 
dezvous, and advanced with the easy conviction that the 
mere impulse of so mighty a force would sweep Caesar off 
the earth. They were late in arriving. The thirty days 
had passed, and there were no signs of the coming deliv- 
erers. Eager eyes were straining from the heights of the 
plateau; but nothing was seen save the tents of the legions 
or the busy units of men at work on the walls and trenches. 
Anxious debates were held among the beleaguered chiefs. 
The faint-hearted wished to surrender before they were 
starved. Others were in favour of a desperate effort to cut 
their way through or die. One speech Caesar preserves for 
its remarkable and frightful ferocity. A prince of Au- 
vergne said that the Romans conquered to enslave and 
beat down the laws and liberties of free nations under the 
lictors , axes, and he proposed that sooner than yield they 
should kill and eat those who were useless for fighting. 

Vercingetorix was of noble nature. To prevent the 
adoption of so horrible an expedient, he ordered the peace- 
ful inhabitants, with their wives and children, to leave the 
town. Caesar forbade them to pass his lines. Cruel — but 
war is cruel; and where a garrison is to be reduced by 
famine the laws of it are inexorable. 

But the day of expected deliverance dawned at last. 


Five miles beyond the Brenne the dust-clouds of the ap- 
proaching host were seen, and then the glitter of their 
lances and their waving pennons. They swam the river. 
They filled the plain below the town. From the heights 
of Alesia the whole scene lay spread under the feet of the 
besieged. Vercingetorix came down on the slope to the 
edge of the first trench, prepared to cross when the turn 
of battle should give him a chance to strike. Caesar sent 
out his German horse, and stood himself watching from the 
spur of an adjoining hill. The Gauls had brought in- 
numerable archers with them. The horse flinched slightly 
under the showers of arrows, and shouts of triumph rose 
from the lines of the town; but the Germans rallied again, 
sent the cavalry of the Gauls flying, and hewed down the 
unprotected archers. Vercingetorix fell back sadly to his 
camp on the hill, and then for a day there was a pause. 
The relieving army had little food with them, and if they 
acted at all must act quickly. They spread over the coun- 
try collecting fagots to fill the trenches, and making lad- 
ders to storm the walls. At midnight they began their 
assault on the lines in the plain and Vercingetorix, hearing 
by the cries that the work had begun, gave his own signal 
for a general sally. The Roman arrangements had been 
completed long before. Every man knew his post. The 
slings, the crossbows, the scorpions were all at hand and in 
order. Mark Antony and Caius Trebonius had each a 
flying division under them to carry help where the pres- 
sure was most severe. The Gauls were caught on the 
cervi, impaled on the stimuli, and fell in heaps under the 
bolts and balls which were poured from the walls. They 
could make no impression, and fell back at daybreak beaten 
and dispirited. Vercingetorix had been unable even to 
pass the moats and trenches, and did not come into action 
till his friends had abandoned the attack. 

The Gauls had not yet taken advantage of their enormous 
numbers. Defeated on the level ground, they next tried 
the heights. The Romans were distributed in a ring now 
fourteen miles in extent. On the north side, beyond the 

296 JULIUS (LESAR [ B . c. 52 

Ose, the works were incomplete, owing to the nature of the 
ground, and their lines lay on the slope of the hills descend- 
ing towards the river. Sixty thousand picked men left the 
Gauls' camp before dawn; they stole round by a distant 
route, and were allowed to rest concealed in a valley till the 
middle of the day. At noon they came over the ridge at 
the Romans' back; and they had the best of the position, 
being able to attack from above. Their appearance was 
the signal for a general assault on all sides, and for a deter- 
mined sally by Vercingetorix from within. Thus before, 
behind, and everywhere, the legions were assailed at the 
same moment; and Caesar observes that the cries of battle 
in the rear are always more trying to men than the fiercest 
onset upon them in front; because what they cannot see 
they imagine more formidable than it is, and they depend 
for their own safety on the courage of others. 

Caesar had taken his stand where he could command the 
whole action. There was no smoke in those engagements, 
and the scene was transparently visible. Both sides felt 
that the deciding trial had come. In the plain the Gauls 
made no more impression than on the preceding day. 
At the weak point on the north the Romans were forced 
back down the slope, and could not hold their positions. 
Caesar saw it, and sent Labienus with six cohorts to their 
help. Vercingetorix had seen it also, and attacked the in- 
terior lines at the same spot. Decimus Brutus was then 
despatched also, and then Caius Fabius. Finally, when the 
fighting grew desperate, he left his own station; he called 
up the reserves which had not yet been engaged, and he 
rode across the field, conspicuous in his scarlet dress and 
with his bare head, cheering on the men as he passed each 
point where they were engaged, and hastening to the scene 
where the chief danger lay.' He sent round a few squad- 
rons of horse to the back of the hills which the Gauls had 
crossed in the morning. He himself joined Labienus. 
Wherever he went he carried enthusiasm along with him. 
The legionaries flung away their darts and rushed upon the 
enemy sword in hand. The cavalry appeared above on the 

B. c. 52] DEFEAT OF THE GAULS 297 

heights. The Gauls wavered, broke, and scattered. The 
German horse were among them, hewing down the brave 
but now helpless patriots who had come with such high 
hopes and fought so gallantly. Out ot the sixty thousand 
that had sallied forth in the morning, all but a draggled 
remnant lay dead on the hill-sides. Seventy-four stand- 
ards were brought in to Caesar. The besieged retired into 
Alesia again in despair. The vast hosts that were to have 
set them free melted away. In the morning they were 
streaming over the country, making back for their homes, 
with Caesar's cavalry behind them, cutting them down and 
capturing them in thousands. 

The work was done. The most daring feat in the mili- 
tary annals of mankind had been successfully accomplished. 
A Roman army which could not at the utmost have 
amounted to fifty thousand men had held blockaded an 
army of eighty thousand — not weak Asiatics, but European 
soldiers, as strong and as brave individually as the Italians 
were; and they had defeated, beaten, and annihilated an- 
other army which had come expecting to overwhelm them, 
five times as large as their own. 

Seeing that all was over, Vercingetorix called the chiefs 
about him. He had gone into the war, he said, for no 
object of his own, but for the liberty of his country. For- 
tune had gone against him; and he advised them to make 
their peace, either by killing him and sending his head to 
the conqueror or by delivering him up alive. A humble 
message of submission was despatched to Caesar. He de- 
manded an unconditional surrender, and the Gauls, starv- 
ing and hopeless, obeyed. The Roman general sat amidst 
the works in front of the camp while the chiefs one by one 
were produced before him. The brave Vercingetorix, as 
noble in his calamity as Caesar himself in his success, was 
reserved to be shown in triumph to the populace of Rome. 
The whole of his army were prisoners of war. The iEdui 
and Arverni among them were set aside, and were dis- 
missed after a short detention for political reasons. The 
remainder were sold to the contractors, and the proceeds 

298 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 52-51 

were distributed as prize-money among the legions. 
Caesar passed the winter at Bibracte, receiving the sub- 
mission of the chiefs of the yEdui and of the Auvergne. 
Wounds received in war soon heal if gentle measures fol- 
low a victory. If tried by the manners of his age, Caesar 
was the most merciful of conquerors. His high aim was, 
not to enslave the Gauls, but to incorporate them in the 
Empire; to extend the privileges of Roman citizens 
among them and among all the undegenerate races of 
the European provinces. He punished no one. He was 
gracious and considerate to all, and he so impressed the 
central tribes by his judgment and his moderation that 
they served him faithfully in all his coming troubles, and 
never more, even in the severest temptations, made an 
effort to recover their independence. 

Much, however, remained to be done. The insurrec- 
tion had shaken the whole of Gaul. The distant tribes had 
all joined in it, either actively or by sympathy; and the 
patriots who had seized the control, despairing of pardon, 
thought their only hope was in keeping rebellion alive. 
During winter they believed themselves secure. The Car- 
nutes of the Eure and Loire, under a new chief named 
Gutruatus, 7 and the Bituriges, untaught by or savage at 
the fate of Bourges, were still defiant. When the winter 
was at its deepest, Caesar suddenly appeared across the 
Loire. He caught the country people unprepared, and 
captured them in their farms. The swiftness of his 
marches baffled alike flight and resistance; he crushed the 
whole district down, and he was again at his quarters in 
forty days. As a reward to the men who had followed 
him so cheerfully in the cold January campaign, he gave 
each private legionary 200 sesterces and each centurion 
2000. Eighteen days' rest was all that he allowed himself, 
and with fresh troops, and in storm and frost, he started 
for the Carnutes. The rebels were to have no rest till they 
submitted. The Bellovaci were now out also. The Remi 
alone of all the Gauls had continued faithful in the rising of 
Vercingetorix. The Bellovaci, led by Commius of Arras, 


were preparing to burn the territory of the Remi as a pun- 
ishment. Commius was not as guilty, perhaps, as he 
seemed. Labienus had suspected him of intending mis- 
chief when he was on the Seine in the past summer, and 
had tried to entrap and kill him. Anyway Caesar's first 
object was to show the Gauls that no friends of Rome 
would be allowed to suffer. He invaded Normandy; he 
swept the country. He drove the Bellovaci and the Car- 
nutes to collect in another great army to defend them- 
selves; he set upon them with his usual skill, and destroyed 
them. Commius escaped over the Rhine to Germany. 
Gutruatus was taken. Caesar would have pardoned him; 
but the legions were growing savage at these repeated and 
useless commotions, and insisted on his execution. The 
poor wretch was flogged till he was insensible, and his head 
was cut off by the lictor's axe. 

All Gaul was now submissive, its spirit broken, and, as 
the event proved, broken finally, except in the southwest. 
Eight years out of the ten of Caesar's government had ex- 
pired. In one corner of the country only the dream still 
survived that if the patriots could hold out till Caesar was 
gone, Celtic liberty might yet have a chance of recovering 
itself. A single tribe on the Dordogne, relying on the 
strength of a fortress in a situation resembling that of 
Gergovia, persisted in resistance to the Roman authority. 
The spirit of national independence is like a fire: so long 
as a spark remains a conflagration can again be kindled, 
and Caesar felt that he must trample out the last ember 
that was alive. Uxellodunum — so the place was named — 
stood on an inaccessible rock, and was amply provisioned. 
It could be taken only as Edinburgh Castle was once taken, 
by cutting off its water; and the ingenious tunnel may still 
be seen by which the Roman engineers tapped the spring 
that supplied the garrison. They, too, had then to yield, 
and the war in Gaul was over. 

The following winter Caesar spent at Arras. He wished 
to hand over his conquests to his successor not only sub- 
dued but reconciled to subjection. He invited the chiefs 

300 JULIUS C.ESAR [ B . c. 50 

of all the tribes to come to him. He spoke to them of the 
future which lay open to them as members of a splendid 
Imperial State. He gave them magnificent presents. He 
laid no impositions either on the leaders or their people, 
and they went to their homes personally devoted to their 
conqueror, contented with their condition, and resolved 
to maintain the peace which was now established — a unique 
experience in political history. The Norman Conquest of 
England alone in the least resembles it. In the spring of 50 
Caesar went to Italy. Strange things had happened mean- 
while in Rome. So long as there was a hope that Caesar 
would be destroyed by the insurrection the ill-minded 
Senate had waited to let the Gauls do the work for them. 
The chance was gone. He had risen above his perils more 
brilliant than ever, and nothing now was left to them but 
to defy and trample on him. Servius Galba, who was 
favourable to Caesar, had stood for the consulship for 49, 
and had received a majority of votes. The election was set 
aside. Two patricians, Lentulus and Caius Marcellus,were 
declared chosen, and their avowed purpose was to strip the 
conqueror of Gaul of his honours and rewards. 8 The people 
of his own Cisalpine Province desired to show that they at 
least had no sympathy with such envenomed animosities. 
In the colonies in Lombardy and Venetia Caesar was re- 
ceived with the most passionate demonstrations of affec- 
tion. The towns were dressed out with flags and flowers. 
The inhabitants crowded into the streets with their wives 
and children to look at him as he passed. The altars 
smoked with offerings; the temples were thronged with 
worshippers praying the immortal gods to bless the great- 
est of the Romans. He had yet one more year to govern. 
After a brief stay he rejoined his army. He spent the sum- 
mer in organizing the administration of the different dis- 
tricts and assigning his officers their various commands. 
That he did not at this time contemplate any violent 
interference with the Constitution may be proved by the 
distribution of his legions, which remained stationed far 
away in Belgium and on the Loire. 



1 Page 281. Above Orleans, on the Loire. 

2 Page 281. Four miles from Clermont, on the Allier, in the Puy-de- 

3 Page 285. "Extrema fames." — De Bell. Gall., vii. 17. 

4 Page 286. " Sumraa se iniquitatis condemnari debere nisi eorum 
vitam sua salute habeat cariorem." 

5 Page 287. De Bell. Gall., vii. 33. 

* Page 290. " Tantis subito difficultatibus objectis ab animi virtute 
consilium petebat." 

7 Page 298. Gudrund ? The word has a German sound. 

8 Page 300. " Insolenter adversarii sui gloriabantur L. Lentulum et 
C. Marcellum consules creatos, qui omnem honorem et dignitatem 
Casaris exspoliarent. Ereptum Servio Galbse consulatum cum is 
multo plus gratia suffragiisque valuisset, quod sibi conjunctus et famili- 
aritate et necessitudine legationis esset." — Auli Hertii De Bell. Gall., 
viii. 50. 


CRASSUS had been destroyed by the Parthians. 
The nomination of his successor lay with the Sen- 
ate, and the Senate gave a notable evidence of 
their incapacity for selecting competent governors for the 
provinces by appointing in his place Caesar's old colleague, 
Bibulus. In their whole number there was no such fool as 
Bibulus. When he arrived in Syria he shut himself into a 
fortified town, leaving the Parthians to plunder and burn 
at their pleasure. Cicero mocked at him. The Senate 
thanked him for his distinguished services. The few 
serious men in Rome thought that Caesar or Pompey 
should be sent out; 1 or, if they could not be spared, at 
least one of the consuls of the year — Sulpicius Rufus or 
Marcus Marcellus. But the consuls were busy with home 
politics and did not wish to go, nor did they wish that 
others should go and gather laurels instead of them. 
Therefore nothing was done at all, 1 and Syria was left to 
fate and Bibulus. The consuls and the aristocracy had, in 
fact, more serious matters to attend to. Caesar's time was 
running out, and when it was over he had been promised 
the consulship. That consulship the faction of the Con- 
servatives had sworn that he should never hold. Cato 
was threatening him with impeachment, blustering that 
he should be tried under a guard, as Milo had been. 2 
Marcellus was saying openly that he would call him home 
in disgrace before his term was over. Como, one of the 
most thriving towns in the north of Italy, had been en- 
franchised by Caesar. An eminent citizen from Como 
happening to be at Rome, Marcellus publicly flogged him, 
and bade him go back and tell his fellow-townsmen the 
value of Caesar's gift to them. Cicero saw the folly of such 
actions; 3 but the aristocracy were mad — mad with pride 



and conscious guilt and fear. The ten years of Caesar's 
government would expire at the end of 49. The engage- 
ment had been entered into that he was to see his term out 
with his army and return to Rome for 48 — as consul. 
They remembered his first consulship and what he had 
done with it, . and the laws which he had passed — laws 
which they could not repeal; yet how had they observed 
them? If he had been too strong for them all when he 
was but one of themselves, scarcely known beyond the 
Forum and Senate-house, what would he do now, when he 
was recognised as the greatest soldier which Rome had 
produced, the army, the people, Italy, the provinces all 
adoring his name? Consul again he could not, must not 
be. Yet how could it be prevented? It was useless now 
to bribe the Comitia, to work with clubs and wire-pullers. 
The enfranchised citizens would come to vote for Caesar 
from every country town. The legionaries to a man 
would vote for him; and even in the venal city he was the 
idol of the hour. No fault could be found with his admin- 
istration. His wars had paid their own expenses. He had 
doubled the pay of his troops, but his military chest was 
still full, and his own wealth seemed boundless. He was 
adorning the Forum with new and costly buildings. Sen- 
ators, knights, young men of rank who had been extrava- 
gant, had been relieved by his generosity and were his 
pensioners. Gaul might have been impatient at its loss of 
liberty, but no word of complaint was heard against Csesar 
for oppressive government. The more genius he had 
shown the more formidable he was. Let him be consul, 
and he would be the master of them all. 

Caesar has been credited with far-reaching designs. It 
has been assumed that in early life he had designed the 
overthrow of the constitution; that he pursued his pur- 
pose steadily through every stage in his career, and that 
he sought the command of Gaul only to obtain an army 
devoted to him which would execute his will. It has not 
seemed incredible that a man of middle age undertook the 
conquest of a country of which nothing was known save 

304 JULIUS C;ESAR [b. c. 51 

that it was inhabited by warlike races, who more than 
once had threatened to overrun Italy and destroy Rome; 
that he went through ten years of desperate righting ex- 
posed to a thousand dangers from the sword, from ex- 
posure and hardship; that for ten years he had banished 
himself from Rome, uncertain whether he would ever see 
it again; and that he had ventured upon all this with no 
other object than that of eventually controlling domestic 
politics. A lunatic might have entertained such a scheme, 
but not a Caesar. The Senate knew him. They knew 
what he had done. They knew what he would now do, and 
for this reason they feared and hated him. Caesar was a re- 
former. He had long seen that the Roman Constitu- 
tion was too narrow for the functions which had fallen to 
it, and that it was degenerating into an instrument of 
tyranny and injustice. The courts of law were corrupt; the 
elections were corrupt. The administration of the prov- 
inces was a scandal and a curse. The soil of Italy had 
become a monopoly of capitalists, and the inhabitants of it 
a population of slaves. He had exerted himself to stay the 
mischief at its fountain, to punish bribery, to punish the 
rapacity of proconsuls and propraetors, to purify the courts, 
to maintain respect for the law. He had endeavoured to 
extend the franchise, to raise the position of the liberated 
slaves, to replace upon the land a free race of Roman citi- 
zens. The old Roman sentiment, the consciousness of the 
greatness of the country and of its mighty destinies, was 
chiefly now to be found in the armies. In the families of 
veteran legionaries, spread in farms over Italy and the 
provinces, the national spirit might revive; and, with a due 
share of political power conceded to them, an enlarged and 
purified constituency might control the votes of the venal 
populace of the city. These were Caesar's designs, so far 
as could have been gathered from his earlier actions; but 
the manipulation of elections, the miserable contest with 
disaffected colleagues and a hostile Senate, were dreary oc- 
cupations for such a man as he was. He was conscious of 
powers which in so poor a sphere could find no expression. 


He had ambition doubtless — plenty of it — ambition not to 
pass away without leaving his mark on the history of his 
country. As a statesman he had done the most which 
could be done when he was consul the first time, and he had 
afterwards sought a free field for his adventurous genius 
in a new country, and in rounding off into security the 
frontiers of the Empire on the side where danger was most 
threatening. The proudest self-confidence could not have 
allowed him at his time of life to calculate on returning 
to Rome to take up again the work of reformation. 

But Caesar had conquered. He had made a name for 
himself as a soldier before which the Scipios and the Lucul- 
luses, the Syllas and Pompeys paled their glory. He was 
coming back to lay at his country's feet a province larger 
than Spain — not subdued only, but reconciled to subjuga- 
tion; a nation of warriors, as much devoted to him as his 
own legions. The aristocracy had watched his progress 
with the bitterest malignity. When he was struggling 
with the last spasms of Gallic liberty, they had talked in 
delighted whispers of his reported ruin. 4 But his genius 
had risen above his difficulties and shone out more glorious 
than before. When the war was over the Senate had been 
forced to vote twenty days of thanksgiving. Twenty days 
were not enough for Roman enthusiasm. The people 
made them into sixty. 

If Caesar came to Rome as consul, the Senate knew too 
well what it might expect. What he had been before he 
would be again, but more severe, as his power was greater. 
Their own guilty hearts perhaps made them fear another 
Marian proscription. Unless his command could be 
brought to an end in some far different form, their days of 
power were numbered, and the days of inquiry and pun- 
ishment would begin. 

Cicero had for some time seen what was coming. He had 

preferred characteristically to be out of the way at the 

moment when he expected that the storm would break, 

and had accepted the government of Cilicia and Cyprus. 

He was thus absent while the active plot was in prepara- 

306 JULIUS CiESAR [ B . c. 51-50 

tion. One great step had been gained — the Senate had 
secured Pompey. Caesar's greatness was too much for 
him. He could never again hope to be the first on the 
popular side, and he preferred being the saviour of the con- 
stitution to playing second to a person whom he had pat- 
ronized. Pompey ought long since to have been in Spain 
with his troops; but he had stayed at Rome to keep order, 
and he had lingered on with the same pretext. The first 
step was to weaken Caesar and to provide Pompey with a 
force in Italy. The Senate discovered suddenly that Asia 
Minor was in danger from the Parthians. They voted that 
Caesar and Pompey must each spare a legion for the East. 
Pompey gave as his part the legion which he had lent to 
Caesar for the last campaign. Caesar was invited to re- 
store it and furnish another of his own. Caesar was then 
in Belgium. He saw the object of the demand perfectly 
clearly; but he sent the two legions without a word, con- 
tenting himself with making handsome presents to the offi- 
cers and men on their leaving him. When they reached 
Italy the Senate found that they were wanted for home 
service, and they were placed under Pompey's command 
in Campania. The consuls chosen for the year 49 were 
Lucius Cornelius Lentulus and Caius Marcellus, both of 
them Caesar's open enemies. Caesar himself had been 
promised the consulship (there could be no doubt of his 
election, if his name was accepted in his absence) for the 
year 48. He was to remain with his troops till his term 
had run out, and to be allowed to stand while still in com- 
mand. This was the distinct engagement which the 
assembly had ratified. After the consular election had 
been secured in the autumn of 50 to the Conservative can- 
didates, it was proposed that by a displacement of dates 
Caesar's government should expire, not at the close of 
the tenth year, but in the spring, on the 1st of March. 
Convenient constitutional excuses were found for the 
change. On the 1st of March he was to cease to be gov- 
ernor of Gaul. A successor was to be named to take over 
his army. He would then have to return to Rome, and 


would lie at the mercy of his enemies. Six months would 
intervene before the next elections, during which he might 
be impeached, incapacitated, or otherwise disposed of; 
while Pompey and his two legions could effectually prevent 
any popular disturbance in his favour. The Senate hesi- 
tated before decisively voting the recall. An intimation 
was conveyed to Caesar that he had been mistaken about 
his term, which would end sooner than he had supposed; 
and the world was waiting to see how he would take it. 
Atticus thought that he would give way. His having 
parted so easily with two legions did not look like re- 
sistance. Marcus Caelius, a correspondent of Cicero, who 
had been elected praetor for 49, and kept his friend informed 
how things were going on, wrote in the autumn: — 

" All is at a standstill about the Gallic government. The 
subject has been raised, and is again postponed. Pom- 
pey 's view is plain, that Caesar must leave his province 
after the 1st of March .... but he does not think that 
before that time the Senate can properly pass a resolution 
about it. After the 1st of March he will have no hesita- 
tion. When he was asked what he would do if a tribune 
interposed, he said it made no difference whether Caesar 
himself obeyed the Senate, or provided someone else 
to interfere with the Senate. Suppose, said one, Caesar 
wishes to be consul and to keep his army. Pompey an- 
swered, ' What if my son wishes to lay a stick on my back? ' 
.... It appears that Caesar will accept one or other of 
two conditions; either to remain in his province, and post- 
pone his claim for the consulship; or, if he can be named 
for the consulship, then to retire. Curio is all against him. 
What he can accomplish I know not; but I perceive this, 
that if Caesar means well, he will not be overthrown." 5 

The object of the Senate was either to ruin Caesar, if he 
complied with this order, or to put him in the wrong by pro- 
voking him to disobedience. The scheme was ingenious; 
but if the Senate could mine, Caesar could countermine. 
Caelius said that Curio was violent against him: and so Curio 
had been. Curio was a young man of high birth, dissolute, 

308 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 50 

extravagant, and clever. His father, who had been consul 
five-and-twenty years before, was a strong aristocrat and a 
close friend of Cicero's. The son had taken the same line; 
but, among other loose companions, he had made the ac- 
quaintance, to his father's regret, of Mark Antony, and 
though they had hitherto been of opposite politics, the in- 
timacy had continued. The Senate's influence had made 
Curio tribune for the year 49. Antony had been chosen 
tribune also. To the astonishment of everybody but 
Cicero, it appeared that these two, who were expected to 
neutralize each other, were about to work together, and to 
veto every resolution which seemed an unfair return for 
Caesar's services. Scandal said that young Curio was in 
money difficulties, and that Caesar had paid his debts for 
him. It was perhaps a lie invented by political malignity; 
but if Curio was purchasable, Caesar would not have hesi- 
tated to buy him. His habit was to take facts as they 
were, and when satisfied that his object was just, to go the 
readiest way to it. 

The desertion of their own tribune was a serious blow to 
the Senate. Caelius, who was to be praetor, was inclining 
to think that Caesar would win, and therefore might take 
his side also. The constitutional opposition would then be 
extremely strong; and even Pompey, fiercely as he had 
spoken, doubted what to do. The question was raised in 
the Senate, whether the tribunes' vetoes were to be re- 
garded. Marcellus, who had flogged the citizen of Como, 
voted for defying them, but the rest were timid. Pompey 
did not know his own mind. 6 Caelius's account of his own 
feelings in the matter represented probably those of many 
besides himself. 

" In civil quarrels," he wrote to Cicero, " we ought to 
go with the most honest party, as long as the contest lies 
within constitutional limits. When it is an affair of camps 
and battles, we must go with the strongest. Pompey will 
have the Senate and the men of consideration with him. 
All the discontented will go with Caesar. I must calculate 
the forces on both sides, before I decide on my own part." 7 


When the question next came on in the Senate, Curio, 
being of course instructed in Caesar's wishes, professed to 
share the anxiety lest there should be a military Dictator- 
ship; but he said that the danger was as great from Pom- 
pey as from Caesar. He did not object to the recall of 
Caesar, but Pompey, he thought, should resign his province 
also, and the constitution would then be out of peril. 

Pompey professed to be willing, if the Senate desired it; 
but he insisted that Caesar must take the first step. Cu- 
rio's proposal was so fair, that it gained favour both in 
Forum and Senate. The populace, who hated Pompey, 
threw flowers upon the tribune as he passed. Marcellus, 
the consul, a few days later, put the question in the Sen- 
ate: Was Caesar to be recalled? A majority answered 
Yes. Was Pompey to be deprived of his province? The 
same majority said No. Curio then proposed that both 
Pompey and Caesar should dismiss their armies. Out of 
three hundred and ninety-two senators present, three hun- 
dred and seventy agreed. Marcellus told them bitterly 
that they had voted themselves Caesar's slaves. But they 
were not all insane with envy and hatred, and in the 
midst of their terrors they retained some prudence, per- 
haps some conscience and sense of justice. By this time, 
however, the messengers who had been sent to communi- 
cate the Senate's views to Caesar had returned. They 
brought no positive answer for himself; but they reported 
that Caesar's troops were worn out and discontented, and 
certainly would refuse to support hirn in any violent action. 
How false their account of the army was the Senate had 
soon reason to know, but it was true that one, and he the 
most trusted officer that Caesar had, Labienus, who had 
fought through so many battles with him in the Forum as 
well as in the field, whose high talents and character his 
Commentaries could never praise sufficiently — it was true 
that Labienus had listened to the offers made him. La- 
bienus had made a vast fortune in the war. He perhaps 
thought, as other distinguished officers have done, that he 
was the person that had won the victories; that without 

3IO JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 50 

him Caesar, who was being so much praised and glorified, 
would have been nothing; and that he at least was en- 
titled to an equal share of the honours and rewards that 
might be coming; while if Caesar was to be disgraced, he 
might have the whole recompense for himself. Caesar 
heard of these overtures; but he had refused to believe that 
Labienus could be untrue to him. He showed his con- 
fidence, and he showed at the same time the integrity of 
his own intentions, by appointing the officer who was sus- 
pected of betraying him Lieutenant-general of the Cisal- 
pine Province. None the less it was true that Labienus 
had been won over. Labienus had undertaken for his 
comrades; and the belief that Caesar could not depend on 
his troops renewed Pompey's courage and gave heart to 
the faction which wished to precipitate extremities. The 
aspect of things was now altered. What before seemed 
rash and dangerous might be safely ventured. Caesar had 
himself followed the messengers to Ravenna. To raise 
the passions of men to the desired heat, a report was spread 
that he had brought his troops across and was marching 
on Rome. Curio hastened off to him, to bring back un- 
der his own hand a distinct declaration of his views. 

It was at this crisis, in the middle of the winter 50-49, that 
Cicero returned to Rome. He had held his government 
but for two years, and instead of escaping the catastrophe, 
he found himself plunged into the heart of it. He had man- 
aged his province well. No one ever suspected Cicero of 
being corrupt or unjust. He had gained some respectable 
successes in putting down the Cilician banditti. He had 
been named Imperator by his soldiers in the field after an 
action in which he had commanded; he had been flattering 
himself with the prospect of a triumph, and had laid up 
money to meet the cost of it. The quarrel between the 
two great men whom he had so long feared and flattered, 
and the necessity which might be thrown on him of de- 
claring publicly on one side or the other, agitated him ter- 
ribly. In October, as he was on his way home, he ex- 
pressed his anxieties with his usual frankness to Atticus. 


" Consider the problem for me," he said, " as it affects 
myself: you advised me to keep on terms both with Pom- 
pey and Caesar. You bade me adhere to one because he 
had been good to me, and to the other because he was 
strong. I have done so. I so ordered matters that no 
one could be dearer to either of them than I was. I re- 
flected thus: while I stand by Pompey, I cannot hurt the 
Commonwealth; if I agree with Caesar, I need not quarrel 
with Pompey; so closely they appeared to be connected. 
But now they are at a sharp issue. Each regards me as his 
friend, unless Caesar dissembles; while Pompey is right in 
thinking, that what he proposes I shall approve. I heard 
from both at the time at which I heard from you. Their 
letters were most polite. What am I to do? I don't mean 
in extremities. If it comes to fighting, it will be better to 
be defeated with one than to conquer with the other. But 
when I arrive at Rome, I shall be required to say if Caesar 
is to be proposed for the consulship in his absence, or if he 
is to dismiss his army. What must I answer? Wait till I 
have consulted Atticus? That will not do. Shall I go 
against Caesar? Where are Pompey's resources? I my- 
self took Caesar's part about it. He spoke to me on the 
subject at Ravenna. I recommended his request to the 
tribunes as a reasonable one. Pompey talked with me also 
to the same purpose. Am I to change my mind? I am 
ashamed to oppose him now. Will you have a fool's opin- 
ion? I will apply for a triumph, and so I shall have an ex- 
cuse for not entering the city. You will laugh. But oh, 
I wish I had remained in my province. Could I but have 
guessed what was impending! Think for me. How shall 
I avoid displeasing Caesar? He writes most kindly about 
a ' Thanksgiving ' for my success." 8 

Caesar had touched the right point in congratulating 
Cicero on his military exploits. His friends in the Senate 
had been less delicate. Bibulus had been thanked for hid- 
ing from the Parthians. When Cicero had hinted his ex- 
pectations, the Senate had passed to the order of the day. 

" Cato," he wrote, " treats me scurvily. He gives me 

312 JULIUS C^SAR [B.C. 50 

praise for justice, clemency, and integrity, which I did not 
want. What 1 did want he will not let me have. Caesar 
promises me everything. — Cato has given a twenty-days' 
thanksgiving to Bibulus. Pardon me, if this is more than 
I can bear. But I am relieved from my worst fear. The 
Parthians have left Bibulus half alive." 9 

The shame wore off as Cicero drew near to Rome. He 
blamed the tribunes for insisting on what he had himself 
declared to be just. " Any way," he said, " I stick to Pom- 
pey. When they say to me, Marcus Tullius, what do you 
think? I shall answer, I go with Pompey; but privately I 
shall advise Pompey to come to terms. We have to do 
with a man full of audacity and completely prepared. 
Every felon, every citizen who is in disgrace or ought to 
be in disgrace, almost all the young, the city mob, the 
tribunes, debtors, who are more numerous than I could 
have believed, all these are with Caesar. He wants noth- 
ing but a good cause, and war is always uncertain." 10 

Pompey had been unwell at the beginning of December, 
and had gone for a few days into the country. Cicero 
met him on the 10th. " We were two hours together," 
he said. " Pompey was delighted at my arrival. He 
spoke of my triumph, and promised to do his part. He 
advised me to keep away from the Senate, till it was ar- 
ranged, lest I should offend the tribunes. He spoke of 
war as certain. Not a word did he utter pointing to a 
chance of compromise. — My comfort is that Caesar, to 
whom even his enemies had allowed a second consulship, 
and to whom fortune had given so much power, will not 
be so mad as to throw all this away." 1X Cicero had soon 
to learn that the second consulship was not so certain. 
On the 29th he had another long conversation with 

" Is there hope of peace? " he wrote, in reporting what 
had passed. " So far as I can gather from his very full ex- 
pressions to me, he does not desire it. For he thinks thus: 
If Caesar be made consul, even after he has parted from his 
army, the constitution will be at an end. He thinks also 

B. c. 50-49] DEBATE IN THE SENATE 313 

that when Caesar hears of the preparations against him, he 
will drop the consulship for this year, to keep his province 
and his troops. Should he be so insane as to try extremi- 
ties, Pompey holds him in utter contempt. I thought, 
when he was speaking, of the uncertainties of war; but I 
was relieved to hear a man of courage and experience talk 
like a statesman of the dangers of an insincere settlement. 
Not only he does not seek for peace, but he seems to fear 
it. My own vexation is, that I must pay Caesar my debt, 
and spend thus what I had set apart for my triumph. It 
is indecent to owe money to a political antagonist/' 12 

Events were hurrying on. Cicero entered Rome the 
first week in January, to find that the Senate had begun 
work in earnest. Curio had returned from Ravenna with 
a letter from Caesar. He had offered three alternatives. 
First, that the agreement already made might stand, and 
that he might be nominated, in his absence, for the consul- 
ship; or that when he left his army, Pompey should disband 
his Italian legions; or, lastly, that he should hand over 
Transalpine Gaul to his successor with eight of his ten le- 
gions, himself keeping the north of Italy and Illyria with 
two, until his election. It was the 1st of January. The 
new consuls, Lentulus and Caius Marcellus, with the other 
magistrates, had entered on their offices, and were in their 
places in the Senate. Pompey was present, and the letter 
was introduced. The consuls objected to its being read, 
but they were overruled by the remonstrances of the trib- 
unes. The reading over, the consuls forbade a debate 
upon it, and moved that the condition of the Common- 
wealth should be taken into consideration. Lentulus, the 
more impassioned of them, said that if the Senate would be 
firm, he would do his duty; if they hesitated and tried con- 
ciliation, he should take care of himself, and go over to 
Caesar's side. Metellus Scipio, Pompey's father-in-law, 
spoke to the same purpose. Pompey, he said, was ready 
to support the constitution, if the Senate were resolute. 
If they wavered, they would look in vain for future help 
from him. Marcus Marcellus, the consul of the preceding 

3H JULIUS C^SAR [b.c. 49 

year, less wild than he had been when he flogged the Como 
citizen, advised delay, at least till Pompey was better pre- 
pared. Calidius, another senator, moved that Pompey 
should go to his province. Caesar's resentment at the 
detention of the two legions from the Parthian war, 
he thought, was natural and justifiable. Marcus Rufus 
agreed with Calidius. But moderation was borne 
down by the violence of Lentulus; and the Senate, in spite 
of themselves, 13 voted, at Scipio's dictation, that Caesar 
must dismiss his army before a day which was to be fixed, 
or, in default, would be declared an enemy to the State. 
Two tribunes, Mark Antony and Cassius Longinus, inter- 
posed. The tribunes' veto was as old as their institution. 
It had been left standing even by Sylla. But the aristoc- 
racy were declaring war against the people. They knew 
that the veto was coming, and they had resolved to disre- 
gard it. The more passionate the speakers, the more they 
were cheered by Caesar's enemies. The sitting ended in 
the evening without a final conclusion; but at a meeting 
afterwards, at his house, Pompey quieted alarms by as- 
suring the senators that there was nothing to fear. 
Caesar's army he knew to be disaffected. He introduced 
the officers of the two legions that he had taken from 
Caesar, who vouched for their fidelity to the constitution. 
Some of Pompey's veterans were present, called up from 
their farms; they were enthusiastic for their old com- 
mander. Piso, Caesar's father-in-law, and Roscius, a prae- 
tor, begged for a week's delay, that they might go to 
Caesar, and explain the Senate's pleasure. Others pro- 
posed to send a deputation to soften the harshness of his 
removal. But Lentulus, backed by Cato, would listen to 
nothing. Cato detested Caesar as the representative of 
everything which he most abhorred. Lentulus, bankrupt 
and loaded with debts, was looking for provinces to ruin, 
and allied sovereigns to lay presents at his feet. He 
boasted that he would be a second Sylla. 14 When the 
Senate met again in their places, the tribunes' veto was dis- 
allowed. They ordered a general levy through Italy. 


The consuls gave Pompey the command-in-chief, with the 
keys of the treasury. The Senate redistributed the prov- 
inces; giving Syria to Scipio, and in Caesar's place appoint- 
ing Domitius Ahenobarbus, the most inveterate and en- 
venomed of his enemies. Their authority over the prov- 
inces had been taken from them by law, but law was set 
aside. Finally, they voted the State in danger, suspended 
the constitution, and gave the consuls absolute power. 

The final votes were taken on the 7th of January. A 
single week had sufficed for a discussion of the resolutions 
on which the fate of Rome depended. The Senate pre- 
tended to be defending the constitution. They had them- 
selves destroyed the constitution, and established on the 
ruins of it a senatorial oligarchy. The tribunes fled at once 
to Caesar. Pompey left the city for Campania, to join his 
two legions and superintend the levies. 

The unanimity which had appeared in the Senate's final 
determination was on the surface only. Cicero, though 
present in Rome, had taken no part, and looked on in de- 
spair. The " good " were shocked at Pompey's precipi- 
tation. They saw that a civil war could end only in a des- 
potism. 15 " I have not met one man," Cicero said, " who 
does not think it would be better to make concessions to 
Caesar than to fight him. — Why fight now? Things are 
no worse than when we gave him his additional five years, 
or agreed to let him be chosen consul in his absence. You 
wish for my opinion. I think we ought to use every means 
to escape war. But I must say what Pompey says. I can- 
not differ from Pompey." 16 

A day later, before the final vote had been taken, he 
thought still that the Senate was willing to let Caesar keep 
his province, if he would dissolve his army. The moneyed 
interests, the peasant landholders, were all on Caesar's 
side; they cared not even if monarchy came so that they 
might have peace. " We could have resisted Caesar easily 
when he was weak," he wrote. " Now he has eleven le- 
gions and as many cavalry as he chooses with him, the 
Cisalpine provincials, the Roman populace, the tribunes, 

316 JULIUS CAESAR [b.c. 49 

and the hosts of dissolute young men. Yet we are to fight 
with him, or take account of him unconstitutionally. 
Fight, you say, rather than be a slave. Fight for what? 
To be proscribed, if you are beaten; to be a slave still, if 
you win. What will you do then? you ask. As the sheep 
follows the flock and the ox the herd, so will I follow the 
' good,' or those who are called good, but I see plainly 
what will come out of this sick state of ours. No one 
knows what the fate of war may be. But if the ' good ' 
are beaten, this much is certain, that Caesar will be as 
bloody as Cinna, and as greedy of other men's properties 
as Sylla." 17 

Once more, and still in the midst of uncertainty: 
" The position is this: We must either let Caesar stand 
for the consulship, he keeping his army with the Senate's 
consent, or supported by the tribunes; or we must persuade 
him to resign his province and his army, and so to be con- 
sul; or if he refuses, the elections can be held without him, 
he keeping his province; or if he forbids the election 
through the tribunes, we can hang on and come to an In- 
terrex; or, lastly, if he brings his army on us, we can fight. 
Should this be his choice, he will either begin at once, be- 
fore we are ready, or he will wait till his election, when his 
friends will put in his name and it will not be received. 
His plea may then be the ill-treatment of himself, or it may 
be complicated further should a tribune interpose and be 
deprived of office, and so take refuge with him. . . You 
will say, persuade Caesar, then, to give up his army, and 
be consul. Surely, if he will agree, no objection can be 
raised; and if he is not allowed to stand while he keeps his 
army, I wonder that he does not let it go. But a certain 
person (Pompey) thinks that nothing is so much to be 
feared as that Caesar should be consul. Better thus, you 
will say, than with an army. No doubt. But a certain per- 
son holds that his consulship would be an irremediable mis- 
fortune. We must yield if Caesar will have it so. He 
will be consul again, the same man that he was before; 
then, weak as he was, he proved stronger than the whole 


of us. What, think you, will he be now? Pompey, for 
one thing, will surely be sent to Spain. Miserable every 
way; and the worst is, that Caesar cannot be refused, and 
by consenting will be taken into supreme favour by all the 
1 good/ They say, however, that he cannot be brought 
to this. Well, then, which is the worst of the remaining 
alternatives? Submit to what Pompey calls an impudent 
demand? Caesar has held his province for ten years. The 
Senate did not give it him. He took it himself by faction 
and violence. Suppose he had it lawfully, the time is up. 
His successor is named. He disobeys. He says that he 
ought to be considered. Let him consider us. Will he 
keep his army beyond the time for which the people gave 
it to him, in despite of the Senate? We must fight him 
then, and, as Pompey says, we shall conquer or die free 
men. If fight we must, time will show when or how. 
But if you have any advice to give, let me know it, for I 
am tormented day and night." 18 

These letters give a vivid picture of the uncertainties 
which distracted public opinion during the fatal first week 
of January. Caesar, it seems, might possibly have been 
consul had he been willing to retire at once into the con- 
dition of a private citizen, even though Pompey was still 
undisarmed. Whether in that position he would have 
lived to see the election-day is another question. Cicero 
himself, it will be seen, had been reflecting already that 
there were means less perilous than civil war by which 
dangerous persons might be got rid of. And there were 
weak points in his arguments which his impatience passed 
over. Caesar held a positive engagement about his con- 
sulship, which the people had ratified. Of the ten years 
which the people had allowed him, one was unexpired, 
and the Senate had no power to vote his recall without the 
tribunes' and the people's consent. He might well hesi- 
tate to put himself in the power of a faction so little scru- 
pulous. It is evident, however, that Pompey and the two 
consuls were afraid that if such overtures were made to 
him by a deputation from the Senate, he might perhaps 

318 JULIUS CESAR [b.c. 49 

agree to them; and by their rapid and violent vote they 
put an end to the possibility of an arrangement. Caesar, 
for no other crime than that as a brilliant democratic gen- 
eral he was supposed dangerous to the oligarchy, had been 
recalled from his command in the face of the prohibition 
of the tribunes, and was declared an enemy of his coun- 
try unless he instantly submitted. After the experience 
of Marius and Sylla, the Senate could have paid no higher 
compliment to Caesar's character than in believing that he 
would hesitate over his answer. 


I Page 302. «' Cselius ad Ciceronem," Ad Fam. viii. 10. 
8 Page 302. Suetonius, De Vita. Julii Csesaris. 

3 Page 302. " Marcellus fcede de Comensi. Etsi ille magistratum non 
gesserat, erat tamen Transpadanus. Ita mini videtur non minus 
stomachi nostro ac Caesari fecisse." — To Atticus, v. 11. 

4 Page 305. " Quod ad Caesarem crebri et non belli de eo rumores. 
Sed susurratores dumtaxat veniunt. . . Neque adhuc certi quidquam 
est, neque hsec incerta tamen vulgo jactantur. Sed inter paucos, quos 
tu nosti, palam secreto narrantur. At Domitius cum manus ad os 
apposuit!" — Caelius to Cicero. Ad Fam., viii. 1. 

6 Page 307. lb., viii. 8. 

6 Page 308. lb., viii. 13. 

'Page 308. lb., viii. 14. 

8 Page 311. To Atticus, vii. I, abridged. 

9 Page 312. lb., vii. 2. 

10 Page 312. lb., vii. 3. 

II Page 312. lb., vii. <+. 

12 Page 313. " Mihi autem illud molestissimum est, quod solvendi sunt 
nummi Caesari, et instrumentum triumphi eo conferendum. Est 
&[xop<f>ov avTiwoXiTevo/xtvov xP €(a< P € ^ T V v esse." — lb., viii. 8. 

13 Page 314. " Inviti et coacti " is Caesar's expression. He wished, 
perhaps, to soften the Senate's action. (De Bello Civili, 1. 2). 

14 Page 314. "Seque alterum fore Sullam inter suos gloriatar." — lb., 


15 Page 315. " Turn certe tyrannus existet." — To Atticus, vii. 5. 

16 Page 315. lb., vii. 6. 

17 Page 316. lb., vii. 7, abridged. 
18 Page 317. lb., vii. 9, abridged. 


CiESAR, when the report of the Senate's action 
reached him, addressed his soldiers. He had but 
one legion with him, the 13th. But one legion 
would represent the rest. He told them what the Senate 
had done, and why they had done it. " For nine years he 
and his army had served their country loyally and with 
some success. They had driven the Germans over the 
Rhine; they had made Gaul a Roman province; and the 
Senate for answer had broken the constitution, and had 
set aside the tribunes because they spoke in his defence. 
They had voted the State in danger, and had called Italy 
to arms when no single act had been done by himself to 
justify them." The soldiers whom Pompey supposed dis- 
affected declared with enthusiasm that they would support 
their commander and the tribunes. They offered to serve 
without pay. Officers and men volunteered contributions 
for the expenses of the war. In all the army one officer 
alone proved false. Labienus kept his word to Pompey, 
and stole away to Capua. He left his effects behind, and 
Caesar sent them after him untouched. 

Finding that all the rest could be depended on, he sent 
back over the Alps for two more legions to follow him. 
He crossed the little river Rubicon, which bounded his 
province, and advanced to Rimini, where he met the trib- 
unes, Antony, Cassius Longinus, and Curio, who were 
coming to him from Rome. 1 At Rimini the troops were 
again assembled. Curio told them what had passed. 
Caesar added a few more words. The legionaries, officers 
and privates, were perfectly satisfied; and Caesar, who, a 
resolution once taken, struck as swiftly as his own eagles, 
was preparing to go forward. He had but 5000 men with 
him, but he understood the state of Italy, and knew that 


320 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 49 

he had nothing to fear. At this moment Lucius Caesar, a 
distant kinsman, and the praetor Roscius arrived, as they 
said, with a private message from Pompey. The message 
was nothing. The object was no more than to gain time. 
But Caesar had no wish for war, and would not throw away 
a chance of avoiding it. He bade his kinsman tell Pompey 
that it was for him to compose the difficulties which had 
arisen without a collision. He had been himself misrep- 
resented to his countrymen. He had been recalled from 
his command before his time; the promise given to him 
about his consulship had been broken. He had endured 
these injuries. He had proposed to the Senate that the 
forces on both sides should be disbanded. The Senate 
had refused. A levy had been ordered through Italy, and 
the legions designed for Parthia had been retained. Such 
an attitude could have but one meaning. Yet he was 
still ready to make peace. Let Pompey depart to Spain. 
His own troops should then be dismissed. The elections 
could be held freely, and Senate and people would be re- 
stored to their joint authority. If this was not enough, 
they two might meet and relieve each other's alarms and 
suspicions in a personal interview. 

With this answer the envoys went, and Caesar paused at 
Rimini. Meanwhile the report reached Rome that Caesar 
had crossed the Rubicon. The aristocracy had nursed the 
pleasant belief that his heart would fail him, or that his 
army would desert him. His heart had not failed, his army 
had not deserted; and, in their terror, they saw him already 
in their midst like an avenging Marius. He was coming. 
His horse had been seen on the Apennines. Flight, in- 
stant flight, was the only safety. Up they rose, consuls, 
praetors, senators, leaving wives and children and property 
to their fate, not halting even to take the money out of the 
treasury, but contenting themselves with leaving it locked. 
On foot, on horseback, in litters, in carriages, they fled for 
their lives to find safety under Pompey's wing in Capua. 
In this forlorn company went Cicero, filled with contempt 
for what was round him. 


" You ask what Pompey means to do," he wrote to At- 
ticus. " I do not think he knows himself. Certainly none 
of us know. It is all panic and blunder. We are uncer- 
tain whether he will make a stand, or leave Italy. If he 
stays, I fear his army is too unreliable. If not, where will 
he go, and how and what are his plans? Like you, I am 
afraid that Caesar will be a Phalaris, and that we may ex- 
pect the very worst. The flight of the Senate, the de- 
parture of the magistrates, the closing of the treasury, will 
not stop him. — I am broken-hearted; so ill-advisedly, so 
against all my counsels, the whole business has been con- 
ducted. Shall I turn my coat, and join the victors? I am 
ashamed. Duty forbids me; but I am miserable at the 
thought of my children." 2 

A gleam of hope came with the arrival of Labienus, but 
it soon clouded. " Labienus is a hero," Cicero said. 
" Never was act more splendid. If nothing else comes of 
it, he has at least made Caesar smart. — We have a civil war 
on us, not because we have quarrelled among ourselves, 
but through one abandoned citizen. But this citizen has 
a strong army, and a large party attached to him. — What 
he will do I cannot say; he cannot even pretend to do any- 
thing constitutionally; but what is to become of us, with 
a general that cannot lead? — To say nothing of ten years 
of blundering, what could have been worse than this flight 
from Rome? His next purpose I know not. I ask, and 
can have no answer. All is cowardice and confusion. He 
was kept at home to protect us, and protection there is none. 
The one hope is in two legions invidiously detained and 
almost not belonging to us. As to the levies, the men 
enlist unwillingly, and hate the notion of war." 3 

In this condition of things Lucius Caesar arrived with 
the answer from Rimini. A council of war was held at 
Teano to consider it; and the flames which had burnt so 
hotly at the beginning of the month were found to have 
somewhat cooled. Cato's friend, Favonius, was still de- 
fiant; but the rest, even Cato himself, had grown more 
modest. Pompey, it was plain, had no army, and could 

322 JULIUS C.ESAR [b. c. 49 

not raise an army. Caesar spoke fairly. It might be only 
treachery; but the Senate had left their families and their 
property in Rome. The public money was in Rome. 
They were willing to consent that Caesar should be consul, 
since so it must be. Unluckily for themselves, they left 
Pompey to draw up their reply. Pompey intrusted the 
duty to an incapable person named Sestius, and the an- 
swer was ill-written, awkward, and wanting on the only 
point which would have proved his sincerity. Pompey 
declined the proposed interview. Caesar must evacuate 
Rimini, and return to his province; afterwards, at some 
time unnamed, Pompey would go to Spain, and other mat- 
ters should be arranged to Caesar's satisfaction. Caesar 
must give securities that he would abide by his promise to 
dismiss his troops; and meanwhile the consular levies 
would be continued. 4 

To Cicero these terms seemed to mean a capitulation 
clumsily disguised. Caesar interpreted them differently. 
To him it appeared that he was required to part with his 
own army, while Pompey was forming another. No time 
was fixed for the departure to Spain. He might be him- 
self named consul, yet Pompey might be in Italy to the 
end of the year with an army independent of him. Evi- 
dently there was distrust on both sides, yet on Caesar's part 
a distrust not undeserved. Pompey would not see him. 
He had admitted to Cicero that he desired a war to pre- 
vent Caesar from being consul, and at this very moment 
was full of hopes and schemes for carrying it on success- 
fully. " Pompey writes," reported Cicero on the 28th of 
January, " that in a few days he will have a force on which 
he can rely. He will occupy Picenum, 5 and we are then 
to return to Rome. Labienus assures him that Caesar is 
utterly weak. Thus he is in better spirits." 6 

A second legion had by this time arrived at Rimini. 
Caesar considered that if the Senate really desired peace, 
their disposition would be quickened by further pressure. 
He sent Antony across the mountains to Arezzo, on the 
straight road to Rome; and he pushed on himself towards 

b. c. 49] c^esar's advance 323 

Ancona, before Pompey had time to throw himself in the 
way. The towns on the way opened their gates to him. 
The municipal magistrates told the commandants that they 
could not refuse to entertain Caius Caesar, who had done 
such great things for the Republic. The officers fled. 
The garrisons joined Caesar's legions. Even a colony 
planted by Labienus sent a deputation with offers of serv- 
ice. Steadily and swiftly in gathering volume the army 
of the north came on. At Capua all was consternation. 
" The consuls are helpless," Cicero said. " There has 
been no levy. The commissioners do not even try to ex- 
cuse their failure. With Caesar pressing forward, and our 
general doing nothing, men will not give in their names. 
The will is not wanting, but they are without hope. Pom- 
pey, miserable and incredible though it be, is prostrate. 
He has no courage, no purpose, no force, no energy. . . 
Caius Cassius came on the 7th to Capua, with an order 
from Pompey to the consuls to go to Rome and bring away 
the money from the treasury. How are they to go with- 
out an escort, or how return? The consuls say he must 
go himself first to Picenum. But Picenum is lost. Caesar 
will soon be in Apulia, and Pompey on board ship. 
What shall I do? I should not doubt had there not been 
such shameful mismanagement, and had I been myself con- 
sulted. Caesar invites me to peace, but his letter was writ- 
ten before his advance." 7 

Desperate at the lethargy of their commander, the aris- 
tocracy tried to force him into movement by acting on 
their own account. Domitius, who had been appointed 
Caesar's successor, was most interested in his defeat. He 
gathered a party of young lords and knights and a few 
thousand men, and flung himself into Corfinium, a strong 
position in the Apennines, directly in Caesar's path. Pom- 
pey had still his two legions, and Domitius sent an express 
to tell him that Caesar's force was still small, and that with a 
slight effort he might inclose him in the mountains. 
Meanwhile Domitius himself tried to break the bridge over 
the Pescara. He was too late. Caesar had by this time 

324 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 49 

nearly 30,000 men. The Cisalpine territories in mere en- 
thusiasm had raised twenty-two cohorts for him. He 
reached the Pescara while the bridge was still standing. 
He surrounded Corfinium with the impregnable lines 
which had served him so well in Gaul, and the messenger 
sent to Capua came back with cold comfort. Pompey had 
simply ordered Domitius to retreat from a position which 
he ought not to have occupied, and to join him in Apulia. 
It was easy to say retreat! No retreat was possible. Do- 
mitius and his companions proposed to steal away in the 
night. They were discovered. Their own troops arrested 
them, and carried them as prisoners to Caesar. Fortune 
had placed in his hands at the outset of the campaign the 
man who beyond others had been the occasion of it. Do- 
mitius would have killed Caesar like a bandit if he had 
caught him. He probably expected a similar fate for him- 
self. Caesar received his captives calmly and coldly. He 
told them that they had made an ungrateful return to him 
for his services to his country; and then dismissed them 
all, restoring even Domitius's well-filled military chest, and 
too proud to require a promise from him that he would ab- 
stain personally from further hostility. His army, such 
as it was, followed the general example, and declared for 

The capture of Corfinium and the desertion of the gar- 
rison made an end of hesitation. Pompey and the consuls 
thought only of instant flight, and hurried to Brindisi, 
where ships were waiting for them; and Caesar, hoping that 
the evident feeling of Italy would have its effect with the 
reasonable part of the Senate, sent Cornelius Balbus, who 
was on intimate terms with many of them, to assure them 
of his eagerness for peace, and to tell Cicero especially that 
he would be well contented to live under Pompey's rule 
if he could have a guaranty for his personal safety. 8 

Cicero's trials had been great, and were not diminishing. 
The account given by Balbus was simply incredible to him. 
If Caesar was really as well disposed as Balbus represented, 
then the senatorial party, himself included, had acted like 


a set of madmen. It might be assumed, therefore, that 
Caesar was as meanly ambitious, as selfish, as revolutionary, 
as their fears had represented him, and that his mildness 
was merely affectation. But what then? Cicero wished 
for himself to be on the right side, but also to be on the 
safe side. Pompey's was the right side, the side, that is, 
which, for his own sake, he would prefer to see victorious. 
But was Pompey's the safe side? or rather, would it be safe 
to go against him? The necessity for decision was drawing 
closer. If Pompey and the consuls went abroad, all loyal 
senators would be expected to follow them, and to stay 
behind would be held treason. Italy was with Caesar; but 
the East, with its treasures, its fleets, its millions of men, 
this was Pompey's, heart and soul. The sea was Pom- 
pey's. Caesar might win for the moment, but Pompey 
might win in the long run. The situation was most per- 
plexing. Before the fall of Corfinium Cicero had poured 
himself out upon it to his friend. " My connections, per- 
sonal and political," he said, " attach me to Pompey. If 
I stay behind, I desert my noble and admirable compan- 
ions, and I fall into the power of a man whom I know not 
how far I can trust. He shows in many ways that he 
wishes me well. I saw the tempest impending, and I long 
ago took care to secure his good-will. But suppose him 
to be my friend indeed, is it becoming in a good and val- 
iant citizen, who has held the highest offices and done such 
distinguished things, to be in the power of any man? 
Ought I to expose myself to the danger, and perhaps dis- 
grace, which would lie before me, should Pompey recover 
his position? This on one side; but now look at the other. 
Pompey has shown neither conduct nor courage, and he 
has acted throughout against my advice and judgment. I 
pass over his old errors: how he himself armed this man 
against the constitution; how he supported his laws by vio- 
lence in the face of the auspices; how he gave him Further 
Gaul, married his daughter, supported Clodius, helped me 
back from exile indeed, but neglected me afterwards; how 
he prolonged Caesar's command, and backed him up in 

326 JULIUS C&SAR [b. c. 49 

everything; how in his third consulship, when he had be- 
gun to defend the constitution, he yet moved the tribunes to 
carry a resolution for taking Caesar's name in his absence, and 
himself sanctioned it by a law of his own; how he resisted 
Marcus Marcellus, who would have ended Caesar's govern- 
ment on the 1st of March. Let us forget all this: but what 
was ever more disgraceful than the flight from Rome? 
What conditions would not have been preferable? He will 
restore the constitution, you say, but when? by what means? 
Is not Picenum lost? Is not the road open to the city? 
Is not our money, public and private, all the enemy's? 
There is no cause, no rallying point for the friends of the 
constitution. . . The rabble are all for Caesar, and many 
wish for revolution. . . I saw from the first that Pom- 
pey only thought of flight: if I now follow him, whither are 
we to go? Caesar will seize my brother's property and 
mine, ours perhaps sooner than others', as an assault on us 
would be popular. If I stay, I shall do no more than many 
good men did in Cinna's time. — Caesar may be my friend, 
not certainly, but perhaps; and he may offer me a triumph 
which it would be dangerous to refuse, and invidious with 
the 'good' to accept. Oh, most perplexing position! — 
while I write word comes that Caesar is at Corfinium. Do- 
mitius is inside, with a strong force and eager to fight. I 
cannot think Pompey will desert him." 9 

Pompey did desert Domitius, as has been seen. The 
surrender of Corfinium, and the circumstances of it, gave 
Cicero the excuse which he evidently desired to find for 
keeping clear of a vessel that appeared to him to be going 
straight to shipwreck. He pleased himself with inventing 
evil purposes for Pompey, to justify his leaving him. He 
thought it possible that Domitius and his friends might 
have been purposely left to fall into Caesar's hands, in the 
hope that Caesar would kill them and make himself un- 
popular. Pompey, he was satisfied, meant as much to be 
a despot as Caesar. Pompey might have defended Rome, 
if he had pleased; but his purpose was to go away and 
raise a great fleet and a great Asiatic army, and come back 


and ruin Italy, and be a new " Sylla." 10 In his distress 
Cicero wrote both to Caesar and to Pompey, who was now 
at Brindisi. To Caesar he said that, if he wished for peace, 
he might command his services. He had always consid- 
ered that Caesar had been wronged in the course which had 
been pursued toward him. Envy and ill-nature had tried 
to rob him of the honours which had been conferred on 
him by the Roman people. He protested that he had him- 
self supported Caesar's claims, and had advised others to 
do the same. But he felt for Pompey also, he said, and 
would gladly be of service to him. 11 

To Pompey he wrote: — 

" My advice was always for peace, even on hard terms. 
I wished you to remain in Rome. You never hinted that 
you thought of leaving Italy. I accepted your opinion, 
not for the constitution's sake, for I despaired of saving it. 
The constitution is gone, and cannot be restored without 
a destructive war; but I wished to be with you, and if I 
can join you now, I will. I know well that my conduct 
has not pleased those who desired to fight. I urged peace; 
not because I did not fear what they feared, but because 
I thought peace a less evil than war. When the war had 
begun and overtures were made to you, you responded so 
amply and so honourably that I hoped I had prevailed. 
... I was never more friendly with Caesar than they 
were; nor were they more true to the State than I. The 
difference between us is this, that while they and I are 
alike good citizens, I preferred an arrangement, and you, 
I thought, agreed with me. They chose to fight, and as 
their counsels have been taken, I can but do my duty as 
a member of the Commonwealth, and as a friend to 
you." 12 

In this last sentence Cicero gives his clear opinion that 
the aristocracy had determined upon war, and that for this 
reason and no other the attempted negotiations had failed. 
Caesar, hoping that a better feeling might arise after his dis- 
missal of Domitius, had waited a few days at Corfinium. 
Finding that Pompey had gone to Brindisi, he then fol- 

328 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 49 

lowed, trusting to overtake him before he could leave Italy, 
and again by messengers pressed him earnestly for an in- 
terview. By desertions, and by the accession of volun- 
teers, Caesar had now six legions with him. If Pompey 
escaped, he knew that the war would be long and danger- 
ous. If he could capture him, or persuade him to an 
agreement, peace could easily be preserved. When he 
arrived outside the town, the consuls with half the army 
had already gone. Pompey was still in Brindisi, with 
12,000 men, waiting till the transports could return to 
carry him after them. Pompey again refused to see 
Caesar, and, in the absence of the consuls, declined further 
discussion. Caesar tried to blockade him, but for want of 
ships was unable to close the harbour. The transports 
came back, and Pompey sailed for Durazzo. 13 

A few extracts and abridgments of letters will complete 
the picture of this most interesting time. 


" Observe the man into whose hands we have fallen. 
How keen he is, how alert, how well prepared! By Jove, 
if he does not kill anyone, and spares the property of those 
who are so terrified, he will be in high favour. I talk with 
the tradesmen and farmers. They care for nothing but 
their lands, and houses, and money. They have gone right 
round. They fear the man they trusted, and love the man 
they feared; and all this through our own blunders. I am 
sick to think of it." 


" Pompey and Caesar had been divided by perfidious 
villains. I beseech you, Cicero, use your influence to bring 
them together again. Believe me, Caesar will not only do 
all you wish, but will hold you to have done him essential 
service. Would that I could say as much of Pompey, who 
I rather wish than hope may be brought to terms! You 
have pleased Caesar by begging Lentulus to stay in Italy, 
and you have more than pleased me. If he will listen to 

b. c. 49] LETTERS 329 

you, will trust to what I tell him of Caesar, and will go back 
to Rome, between you and him and the Senate, Caesar and 
Pompey may be reconciled. If I can see this, I shall have 
lived long enough. I know you will approve of Caesar's 
conduct at Corfinium. ,, 


" My preparations are complete. I wait till I can go by 
the upper sea; I cannot go by the lower at this season. I 
must start soon, lest I be detained. I do not go for Pom- 
pey's sake. I have long known him to be the worst of 
politicians, and I know him now for the worst of 
generals. I go because I am sneered at by the Optimates. 
Precious Optimates! What are they about now? Sell- 
ing themselves to Caesar? The towns receive Caesar as a 
god. When this Pisistratus does them no harm, they are 
as grateful to him as if he had protected them from others. 
What receptions will they not give him? What honours 
will they not heap upon him? They are afraid, are they? 
By Hercules, it is Pompey that they are afraid of. Caesar's 
treacherous clemency enchants them. Who are these 
Optimates, that insist that I must leave Italy, while they 
remain? Let them be who they may, I am ashamed to 
stay, though I know what to expect. I shall join a man 
who means not to conquer Italy, but to lay it waste." 


" Ought a man to remain in his country after it has fallen 
under a tyranny? Ought a man to use any means to over- 
throw tyranny, though he may ruin his country in doing it? 
Ought he not rather to try to mend matters by argument 
as opportunity offers? Is it right to make war on one's 
country for the sake of liberty? Should a man adhere at 
all risks to one party, though he considers them on the 
whole to have been a set of fools? Is a person who has 
been his country's greatest benefactor, and has been re- 
warded by envy and ill usage, to volunteer into danger for 

330 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 49 

such a party? May he not retire, and live quietly with 
his family, and leave public affairs to their fate? 

" I amuse myself as time passes with these speculations." 


" Pompey has sailed. I am pleased to find that you 
approve of my remaining. My efforts now are to per- 
suade Caesar to allow me to be absent from the Senate, 
which is soon to meet. I fear he will refuse. I have been 
deceived in two points. I expected an arrangement; and 
now I perceive that Pompey has resolved upon a cruel and 
deadly war. By Heaven, he would have shown himself a 
better citizen, and a better man, had he borne anything 
sooner than have taken in hand such a purpose.' , 


" Pompey has sailed. I am pleased to find that you 
Sylla. I know what I say. Never did he show his hand 
more plainly. Has he not a good cause? The very best. 
But mark me, it will be carried out most foully. He means 
to strangle Rome and Italy with famine, and then waste 
and burn the country, and seize the property of all who 
have any. Caesar may do as ill; but the prospect is fright- 
ful. The fleets from Alexandria, Colchis, Sidon, Cyprus, 
Pamphylia, Lycia, Rhodes, Chios, Byzantium, will be em- 
ployed to cut off our supplies, and then Pompey himself 
will come in his wrath." 


" I think I have been mad from the beginning of this 
business. Why did not I follow Pompey when things 
were at their worst? I found him (at Capua) full of fears. 
I knew then what he would do, and I did not like it. He 
made blunder on blunder. He never wrote to me, and 
only thought of flight. It was disgraceful. But now my 
love for him revives. Books and philosophy please me no 
more. Like the sad bird, I gaze night and day over the 
sea, and long to fly away. 21 Were flight the worst, it 

B. c. 49] SHADOW OF THE FUTURE 33 1 

would be nothing, but I dread this terrible war, the like of 
which has never been seen. The word will be, ' Sylla 
could do thus and thus; and why should not I?' Sylla, 
Marius, Cinna, had each a constitutional cause; yet how 
cruel was their victory! I shrank from war because I saw 
that something still more cruel was now intended. I, 
whom some have called the saviour and parent of my coun- 
try! I to bring Getes, and Armenians, and Colchians upon 
Italy! I to famish my fellow-citizens and waste their lands! 
Caesar, I reflected, was in the first place but mortal; and 
then there were many ways in which he might be got rid 
of. 22 But, as you say, the sun has fallen out of the sky. 
The sick man thinks that while there is life there is hope. 
I continued to hope as long as Pompey was in Italy. Now 
your letters are my only consolation." 

"Caesar was but mortal!" The rapture with which 
Cicero hailed Caesar's eventual murder explains too clearly 
the direction in which his thoughts were already running. 
If the life of Caesar alone stood between his country and 
the resurrection of the constitution, Cicero might well 
think, as others have done, that it was better that one man 
should die rather than the whole nation perish. We read 
the words with sorrow, and yet with pity. That Cicero, 
after his past flatteries of Caesar, after the praises which 
he was yet to heap on him, should yet have looked on his 
assassination as a thing to be deserved, throws a saddening 
light upon his inner nature. But the age was sick with a 
moral plague, and neither strong nor weak, wise nor un- 
wise, bore any antidote against infection. 


1 Page 319. The vision on the Rubicon, with the celebrated saying 
that "the die is cast," is unauthenticated, and not at all consistent 
with Caesar's character. 

9 Page 321. To Atticus, vii. 12. 

3 Page 321. Delectus . . . invitorum estetpugnandoabhorrentium. 
lb., vii. 13. 

4 Page 322. Compare Caesar's account of these conditions, De Bello 
Civili, i, 10, with Cicero to Atticus, vii. 17. 

332 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 49 

6 Page 322. Between the Apennines and the Adriatic about Ancona; 
in the line of Caesar's march should he advance from Rimini. 

6 Page 322. To Atticus, vii. 16. 

7 Page 323. lb., vii. 21. 

8 Page 324. " Balbus quidem major ad me scribit, nihil malle Caesa- 
rem, quam principe Pompeio sine metu vivere. Tu puto haec credis." 
lb., viii. 9. 

9 Page 326. lb., viii. 3. 

10 Page 327. lb., viii. 11. 

11 Page 327. " Judicavique te bello violari, contra cujus honorem, 
populi Romani beneficio concessum, inimici atque invidi niterentur. 
Sed ut eo tempore non modoipse fautor dignitatis tuae fui, verum etiam 
caeteris auctor ad te adjuvandum, sic me nunc Pompeii dignitas vehe- 
menter movet," etc. — Cicero to Caesar, inclosed in a letter to Atticus, 
ix. 11. 

12 Page 327. Inclosed to Atticus, viii. 11. 

13 Page 328. Pompey had for two years meditated on the course 
which he was now taking. Atticus had spoken of the intended flight 
from Italy as base. Cicero answers: "Hoc turpe Cnaeus noster bien- 
nio ante cogitavit: ita Sullaturit animus ejus, et diu proscripturit; " 
44 so he apes Sylla and longs for a proscription." — To Atticus, ix. 10. 

14 Page 328. To Atticus, viii. 13. 

15 Page 328. Inclosed to Atticus, viii. 15. 

16 Page 329. To Atticus. viii. 16. 

17 Page 329. lb., ix. 4. 

18 Page 330. lb., ix. 6. 

19 Page 330. lb., 7 and 9. 

20 Page 330. lb., ix. 10. 

21 Page 330. " Ita dies et noctes tanquam avis ilia mare prospecto, 
evolare cupio." 

22 Page 331. <4 Hunc primum mortalem esse, deinde etiam multis 
modis extingui posse cogitabam." — To Atticus, ix. 10. 


POMPEY was gone, gone to cover the Mediterranean 
with fleets which were to starve Italy, and to raise 
an army which was to bring him back to play Sylla's 
game once more. The consuls had gone with him, more 
than half the Senate, and the young patricians, the de- 
scendants of the Metelli and the Scipios, with the noble 
nature melted out of them, and only the pride remaining. 
Caesar would have chased them at once, and have allowed 
them no time to organize, but ships were wanting, and he 
could not wait to form a fleet. Pompey's lieutenants, 
Afranius and Petreius and Varro, were in Spain, with six 
legions and the levies of the province. These had to be 
promptly dealt with, and Sicily and Sardinia, on which 
Rome depended for its corn, had to be cleared of enemies, 
and placed in trustworthy hands. He sent Curio to Sicily 
and Valerius to Sardinia. Both islands surrendered with- 
out resistance, Cato, who was in command in Messina, 
complaining openly that he had been betrayed. Caesar 
went himself to Rome, which he had not seen for ten years. 
He met Cicero by appointment on the road, and pressed 
him to attend the Senate. Cicero's example, he said, 
would govern the rest. If his account of the interview be 
true, Cicero showed more courage than might have been 
expected from his letters to Atticus. He inquired 
whether, if he went, he might speak as he pleased; he could 
not consent to blame Pompey, and he should say that he 
disapproved of attacks upon him, either in Greece or 
Spain. Caesar said that he could not permit language of 
this kind. Cicero answered that he thought as much, and 
therefore preferred to stay away. 1 Caesar let him take his 
own course, and went on by himself. The consuls being 
absent, the Senate was convened by the tribunes, Mark 


334 JULIUS CJESAR [b. c. 49 

Antony and Cassius Longinus, both officers in Caesar's 
army. The house was thin, but those present were cold 
and hostile. They knew by this time that they need fear 
no violence. They interpreted Caesar's gentleness into 
timidity, but they were satisfied that, let them do what they 
pleased, he would not injure them. He addressed the Sen- 
ate with his usual clearness and simplicity. He had asked, 
he said, for no extraordinary honours. He had waited the 
legal period of ten years for a second consulship. A 
promise had been given that his name should be sub- 
mitted, and that promise had been withdrawn. He dwelt 
on his forbearance, on the concessions which he had 
offered, and again on his unjust recall, and the violent sup- 
pression of the legal authority of the tribunes. He had 
proposed terms of peace, he said; he had asked for inter- 
views, but all in vain. If the Senate feared to commit 
themselves by assisting him, he declared his willingness to 
carry on the government in his own name; but he invited 
them to send deputies to Pompey, to treat for an arrange- 

The Senate approved of sending a deputation; but 
Pompey had sworn, on leaving, that he would hold all who 
had not joined him as his enemies; no one, therefore, could 
be found willing to go. Three days were spent in un- 
meaning discussion, and Caesar's situation did not allow of 
trifling. With such people nothing could be done, and 
peace could be won only by the sword. By an edict of his 
own he restored the children of the victims of Sylla's pro- 
scription to their civil rights and their estates, the usurpers 
being mostly in Pompey's camp. The assembly of the 
people voted him the money in the treasury. Metellus, a 
tribune in Pompey's interest, forbade the opening of the 
doors, but he was pushed out of the way. Caesar took such 
money as he needed, and went with his best speed to join 
his troops in Gaul. 

His singular gentleness had encouraged the opposition 
to him in Rome. In Gaul he encountered another result 
of his forbearance more practically trying. The Gauls 


themselves, though so lately conquered in so desperate a 
struggle, remained quiet. Then, if ever, they had an op- 
portunity of reasserting their independence. They not 
only did not take advantage of it, but, as if they disdained 
the unworthy treatment of their great enemy, each tribe 
sent him, at his request, a body of horse, led by the bravest 
of their chiefs. His difficulty came from a more tainted 
source. Marseilles, the most important port in the western 
Mediterranean, the gate through which the trade of the 
province passed in and out, had revolted to Pompey. 
Domitius Ahenobarbus, who had been dismissed at Cor- 
finium, had been despatched to encourage and assist the 
townspeople with a squadron of Pompey's fleet. When 
Caesar arrived, Marseilles closed its gates, and refused to 
receive him. He could not afford to leave behind him an 
open door into the province, and he could ill spare troops 
for a siege. Afranius and Petreius were already over the 
Ebro with 30,000 legionaries and with nearly twice as many 
Spanish auxiliaries. Yet Marseilles must be shut in, and 
quickly. Fabius was sent forward to hold the passes of the 
Pyrenees. Caesar's soldiers were set to work in the forest. 
Trees were cut down and sawn into planks. In thirty 
days twelve stout vessels, able to hold their own against 
Domitius, were built and launched and manned. The 
fleet thus extemporized was trusted to Decimus Brutus. 
Three legions were left to make approaches, and, if pos- 
sible, to take the town on the land side; and, leaving Mar- 
seilles blockaded by sea and land, Caesar hurried on to the 
Spanish frontier. The problem before him was worthy of 
his genius. A protracted war in the peninsula would be 
fatal. Pompey would return to Italy, and there would be 
no one to oppose him there. The Spanish army had to be 
destroyed or captured, and that immediately; and it was 
stronger than Caesar's own, and was backed by all the re- 
sources of the province. 

The details of a Roman campaign are no longer interest- 
ing. The results, with an outline of the means by which 
they were brought about, alone concern the modern reader. 

33 6 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 49 

Pompey's lieutenants, having failed to secure the passes, 
were lying at Lerida, in Catalonia, at the junction of the 
Serge and the Naguera, with the Ebro behind them, and 
with a mountain range, the Sierra de Llena, on their right 
flank. Their position was impregnable to direct attack. 
From their rear they drew inexhaustible supplies. The 
country in front had been laid waste to the Pyrenees, and 
everything which Caesar required had to be brought to him 
from Gaul. In forty days from the time at which the 
armies came in sight of each other Afranius and Petreius, 
with all their legions, were prisoners. Varro, in the south, 
was begging for peace, and all Spain lay at Caesar's feet. 
At one moment he was almost lost. The melting of the 
snows on the mountains brought a flood down the Segre. 
The bridges were carried away, the fords were impassable, 
and his convoys were at the mercy of the enemy. News 
flew to Rome that all was over, that Caesar's army was 
starving, that he was cut off between the rivers, and in a 
few days must surrender. Marseilles still held out. Pom- 
pey's, it seemed, was to be the winning side, and Cicero 
and many others, who had hung back to watch how events 
would turn, made haste to join their friends in Greece be- 
fore their going had lost show of credit. 2 

The situation was indeed most critical. Even Caesar's 
own soldiers became unsteady. He remarks that in civil 
wars generally men show less composure than in ordinary 
campaigns. But resource in difficulties is the distinction 
of great generals. He had observed in Britain that the 
coast fishermen used boats made out of frames of wicker 
covered with skins. The river banks were fringed with 
willows. There were hides in abundance on the carcases 
of the animals in the camp. Swiftly in these vessels the 
swollen waters of the Segre were crossed; the convoys 
were rescued. The broken bridges were repaired. The 
communications of the Pompeians were threatened in turn, 
and they tried to fall back over the Ebro; but they left 
their position only to be intercepted, and after a few feeble 
struggles laid down their arms. Among the prisoners 


were found several of the young nobles who had been re- 
leased at Corfinium. It appeared that they regarded 
Caesar as an outlaw with whom obligations were not bind- 
ing. The Pompeian generals had ordered any of Caesar's 
soldiers who fell into their hands to be murdered. He was 
not provoked into retaliation. He again dismissed the 
whole of the captive force, officers and men, contenting 
himself with this time exacting a promise from them that 
they would not serve against him again. They gave their 
word and broke it. The generals and military tribunes 
made their way to Greece to Pompey. Of the rest some 
enlisted in Caesar's legions; others scattered to combine 
again when opportunity allowed. 

Varro, who commanded a legion in the south, behaved 
more honourably. He sent in his submission, entered into 
the same engagement, and kept it. He was an old friend of 
Caesar's, and better understood him. Caesar, after his vic- 
tory at Lerida, went down to Cordova, and summoned the 
leading Spaniards and Romans to meet him there. All 
came and promised obedience. Varro gave in his ac- 
counts, with his ships, and stores, and money. Caesar then 
embarked at Cadiz, and went round to Tarragona, where 
his own legions were waiting for him. From Tarragona 
he marched back by the Pyrenees, and came in time to re- 
ceive in person the surrender of Marseilles. 

The siege had been a difficult one, with severe engage- 
ments both by land and sea. Domitius and his galleys had 
attacked the ungainly but useful vessels which Caesar had 
extemporized. He had been driven back with the loss of 
half his fleet. Pompey had sent a second squadron to help 
him, and this had fared no better. It had fled after a 
single battle and never reappeared. The land works had 
been assailed with ingenuity and courage. The agger had 
been burnt and the siege towers destroyed. But they "had 
been repaired instantly by the industry of the legions, and 
Marseilles was at the last extremity when Caesar arrived. 
He had wished to spare the townspeople, and had sent 

orders that the place was not to be stormed. On his ap- 

338 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 49 

pearance the keys of the gates were brought to him without 
conditions. Again he pardoned everyone; more, he said, 
for the reputation of the colony than for the merits of its 
inhabitants. Domitius had fled in a gale of wind, and once 
more escaped. A third time he was not to be so fortunate. 

Two legions were left in charge of Marseilles; others 
returned to their quarters in Gaul. Well as the tribes had 
behaved, it was unsafe to presume too much on their 
fidelity, and Caesar was not a partisan chief, but the guar- 
dian of the Roman Empire. With the rest of his army he 
returned to Rome at the beginning of the winter. All 
had been quiet since the news of the capitulation at Lerida. 
The aristocracy had gone to Pompey. The disaffection 
among the people of which Cicero spoke had existed only 
in his wishes, or had not extended beyond the classes who 
had expected from Caesar a general partition of property, 
and had been disappointed. His own successes had been 
brilliant. Spain, Gaul, and Italy, Sicily and Sardinia, were 
entirely his own. Elsewhere and away from his own eye 
things had gone less well for him. An attempt to make a 
naval force in the Adriatic had failed; and young Curio, 
who had done Caesar such good service as tribune, had met 
with a still graver disaster. After recovering Sicily, Curio 
had been directed to cross to Africa and expel Pompey's 
garrisons from the province. His troops were inferior, 
consisting chiefly of the garrison which had surrendered 
at Corfinium. Through military inexperience he had fallen 
into a trap laid for him by Juba, King of Mauritania, and 
had been killed. 

Caesar regretted Curio personally. The African mis- 
fortune was not considerable in itself, but it encouraged 
hopes and involved consequences which he probably fore- 
saw. There was no present leisure, however, to attend to 
Juba. On arriving at the city he was named Dictator. As 
Dictator he held the consular elections, and, with Servilius 
Isauricus for a colleague, he was chosen consul for the year 
which had been promised to him, though under circum- 
stances so strangely changed. With curious punctilious- 


ness he observed that the legal interval had expired since 
he was last in office, and that therefore there was no formal 
objection to his appointment. 

Civil affairs were in the wildest confusion. The Senate 
had fled; the administration had been left to Antony, 
whose knowledge of business was not of a high order; and 
over the whole of Italy hung the terror of Pompey's fleet 
and of Asiatic invasion. Public credit was shaken. 
Debts had not been paid since the civil war began. 
Money-lenders had charged usurious interest for default, 
and debtors were crying for novae tabulae, and hoped to 
clear themselves by bankruptcy. Caesar had but small 
leisure for such matters. Pompey had been allowed 
too long a respite, and unless he sought Pompey in Greece 
Pompey would be seeking him at home, and the horrid 
scenes of Sylla's wars would be enacted over again. He 
did what he could, risking the loss of the favour of the 
mob by disappointing dishonest expectations. Estimates 
were drawn of all debts as they stood twelve months be- 
fore. The principal was declared to be still due. The 
interest for the interval was cancelled. Many persons 
complained of injustice which they had met with in the 
courts of law during the time that Pompey was in power. 
Caesar refused to revise the sentences himself, lest he 
should seem to be encroaching on functions not belonging 
to him; but he directed that such causes should be heard 

Eleven days were all he could afford to Rome. So swift 
was Caesar that his greatest exploits were measured by 
days. He had to settle accounts with Pompey while it was 
still winter, and while Pompey's preparations for the in- 
vasion of Italy were still incomplete; and he and his vet- 
erans, scarcely allowing themselves a breathing-time, went 
down to Brindisi. 

It was now the beginning of January by the unreformed 
calendar (by the seasons the middle of October) — a year 
within a few days since Caesar had crossed the Rubicon. 
He had nominally twelve legions under him. But long 

340 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 49 

marches had thinned the ranks of his old and best-tried 
troops. The change from the dry climate of Gaul and 
Spain to the South of Italy in a wet autumn had affected 
the health of the rest, and there were many invalids. The 
force available for field service was small for the work which 
was before it: in all not more than 30,000 men. Pom- 
pey's army lay immediately opposite Brindisi, at Durazzo. 
It was described afterwards as inharmonious and ill-disci- 
plined, but so far as report went at the time Caesar had 
never encountered so formidable an enemy. There were 
nine legions of Roman citizens with their complements full. 
Two more were coming up with Scipio from Syria. Be- 
sides these there were auxiliaries from the allied princes 
in the East; corps from Greece and Asia Minor, slingers 
and archers from Crete and the islands. Of money, of 
stores of all kinds, there was abundance, for the Eastern 
revenue had been all paid for the last year to Pompey, and 
he had levied impositions at his pleasure. 

Such was the Senate's land army, and before Caesar 
could cross swords with it a worse danger lay in his path. 
It was not for nothing that Cicero said that Pompey had 
been careful of his fleet. A hundred and thirty ships, the 
best which were to be had, were disposed in squadrons 
along the east shore of the Adriatic, the headquarters were 
at Corfu; and the one purpose was to watch the passage 
and prevent Caesar from crossing over. 

Transports run down by vessels of war were inevitably 
sunk. Twelve fighting triremes, the remains of his at- 
tempted Adriatic fleet, were all that Caesar could collect for 
a convoy. The weather was wild. Even of transports he 
had but enough to carry half his army in a single trip. 
With such a prospect and with the knowledge that if he 
reached Greece at all he would have to land in the imme- 
diate neighbourhood of Pompey's enormous host, surprise 
has been expressed that Caesar did not prefer to go round 
through Illyria, keeping his legions together. But Caesar 
had won many victories by appearing where he was least 
expected. He liked well to descend like a bolt out of the 


blue sky; and, for the very reason that no ordinary person 
would under such circumstances have thought of attempt- 
ing the passage, he determined to try it. Long marches 
exhausted the troops. In bad weather the enemy's fleet 
preferred the harbours to the open sea; and perhaps he had 
a further and special ground of confidence in knowing that 
the officer in charge at Corfu was his old acquaintance, 
Bibulus — Bibulus, the fool of the aristocracy, the butt of 
Cicero, who had failed in everything which he had under- 
taken, and had been thanked by Cato for his ill-successes. 
Caesar knew the men with whom he had to deal. He knew 
Pompey's incapacity; he knew Bibulus's incapacity. He 
knew that public feeling among the people was as much on 
his side in Greece as in Italy. Above all, he knew his 
own troops, and felt that he could rely on them, however 
heavy the odds might be. He resolved to save Italy at all 
hazards from becoming the theatre of war, and therefore 
the best road for him was that which would lead most 
swiftly to his end. 

On the 4th of January, then, by unreformed time, 
Caesar sailed with 15,000 men and 500 horse from Brindisi. 
The passage was rough but swift, and he landed without 
adventure at Acroceraunia, now Cape Linguetta, on the 
eastern shore of the Straits of Otranto. Bibulus saw him 
pass from the heights of Corfu, and put to sea, too late to 
intercept him — in time, however, unfortunately, to fall in 
with the returning transports. Caesar had started them 
immediately after disembarking, and had they made use of 
the darkness they might have gone over unperceived; they 
lingered and were overtaken; Bibulus captured thirty of 
them, and, in rage at his own blunder, killed everyone that 
he found on board. 

Ignorant of this misfortune, and expecting that Antony 
would follow him in a day or two with the remainder of the 
army, Caesar advanced at once toward Durazzo, occupied 
Apollonia, and intrenched himself on the left bank of the 
river Apsus. The country, as he anticipated, was well- 
disposed and furnished him amply with supplies. He still 

34 2 JULIUS CAESAR [b.c. 48 

hoped to persuade Pompey to come to terms with him. 
He trusted, perhaps not unreasonably, that the generosity 
with which he had treated Marseilles and the Spanish 
legions might have produced an effect; and he appealed 
once more to Pompey's wiser judgment. Vibullius Rufus, 
who had been taken at Corfinium, and a second time on the 
Lerida, had since remained with Caesar. Rufus, being per- 
sonally known as an ardent member of the Pompeian party, 
was sent forward to Durazzo with a message of peace. 

" Enough had been done," Caesar said, " and Fortune 
ought not to be tempted further. Pompey had lost Italy, 
the two Spains, Sicily, and Sardinia, and a hundred and 
thirty cohorts of his soldiers had been captured. Caesar 
had lost Curio and the army of Africa. They were thus on 
an equality, and might spare their country the conse- 
quences of further rivalry. If either he or Pompey gained 
a decisive advantage, the victor would be compelled to in- 
sist on harder terms. If they could not agree, Caesar was 
willing to leave the question between them to the Senate 
and people of Rome, and for themselves, he proposed that 
they should each take an oath to disband their troops in 
three days." 

Pompey, not expecting Caesar, was absent in Macedonia 
when he heard of his arrival, and was hurrying back to 
Durazzo. Caesar's landing had produced a panic in his 
camp. Men and officers were looking anxiously in each 
other's faces. So great was the alarm, so general the dis- 
trust, that Labienus had sworn in the presence of the army 
that he would stand faithfully by Pompey. Generals, 
tribunes, and centurions had sworn after him. They had 
then moved up to the Apsus and encamped on the opposite 
side of the river, waiting for Pompey to come up. 

There was now a pause on both sides. Antony was un- 
able to leave Brindisi, Bibulus being on the watch day and 
night. A single vessel attempted the passage. It was 
taken and everyone on board was massacred. The weather 
was still wild, and both sides suffered. If Caesar's trans- 
ports could not put to sea, Bibulus's crews could not land 

B. c. 48] DEATH OF BIBULUS 343 

either for fuel or water anywhere south of Apollonia. 
Bibulus held on obstinately till he died of exposure to wet 
and cold, so ending his useless life; but his death did not 
affect the situation favourably for Caesar; his command 
fell into abler hands. 

At length Pompey arrived. Vibullius Rufus delivered 
his message. Pompey would not hear him to the end. 
" What care I," he said, " for life or country if I am to 
hold both by the favour of Caesar? All men will think thus 
of me if I make peace now. . . I left Italy. Men will 
say that Caesar has brought me back/' 

In the legions the opinion was different. The two 
armies were divided only by a narrow river. Friends met 
and talked. They asked each other for what purpose so 
desperate a war had been undertaken. The regular troops 
all idolized Caesar. Deputations from both sides were 
chosen to converse and consult, with Caesar's warmest ap- 
proval. Some arrangement might have followed. But 
Labienus interposed. He appeared at the meeting as if to 
join in the conference; he was talking in apparent friendli- 
ness to Cicero's acquaintance, Publius Vatinius, who was 
serving with Caesar. Suddenly a shower of darts were 
hurled at Vatinius. His men flung themselves in front of 
him and covered his body; but most of them were 
wounded, and the assembly broke up in confusion, La- 
bienus shouting, " Leave your talk of composition; there 
can be no peace till you bring us Caesar's head." 

Cool thinkers were beginning to believe that Caesar was 
in a scrape from which his good fortune would this time 
fail to save him. Italy was on the whole steady, but the 
slippery politicians in the capital were on the watch. They 
had been disappointed on finding that Caesar would give 
no sanction to confiscation of property, and a spark of fire 
burst out which showed that the elements of mischief were 
active as ever. Cicero's correspondent, Marcus Caelius, 
had thrown himself eagerly on Caesar's side at the begin- 
ning of the war. He had been left as praetor at Rome 
when Caesar went to Greece. He in his wisdom conceived 

344 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 48 

that the wind was changing, and that it was time for him to 
earn his pardon fromPompey. He told the mob that Caesar 
would do nothing for them, that Caesar cared only for his 
capitalists. He wrote privately to Cicero that he was 
bringing them over to Pompey, 3 and he was doing it in the 
way in which pretended revolutionists so often play into 
the hands of reactionaries. He proposed a law in the 
assembly in the spirit of Jack Cade, that no debts should be 
paid in Rome for six years, and that every tenant should 
occupy his house for two years free of rent. The admin- 
istrators of the Government treated him as a madman, and 
deposed him from office. He left the city pretending that 
he was going to Caesar. The once notorious Milo, who 
had been in exile since his trial for the murder of Clodius, 
privately joined him; and together they raised a band of 
gladiators in Campania, professing to have a commission 
from Pompey. Milo was killed. Caelius fled to Thurii, 
where he tried to seduce Caesar's garrison, and was put to 
death for his treachery. The familiar actors in the drama 
were beginning to drop. Bibulus was gone, and now 
Caelius and Milo. Fools and knaves are usually the first 
to fall in civil distractions, as they and their works are the 
active causes of them. 

Meantime months passed away. The winter wore 
through in forced inaction, and Caesar watched in vain for 
the sails of his coming transports. The Pompeians had 
for some weeks blockaded Brindisi. Antony drove them off 
with armed boats; but still he did not start, and Caesar 
thought that opportunities had been missed. 4 He wrote 
to Antony sharply. The legions, true as steel, were ready 
for any risks sooner than leave their commander in danger. 
A south wind came at last, and they sailed. They were 
seen in mid-channel, and closely pursued. Night fell, and 
in the darkness they were swept past Durazzo, to which 
Pompey had again withdrawn, with the Pompeian squad- 
ron in full chase behind them. They ran into the harbour 
of Nymphaea, three miles north of Lissa, and were fortu- 
nate in entering it safely. Sixteen of the pursuers ran upon 


the rocks, and the crews owed their lives to Caesar's troops, 
who saved them. So Caesar mentions briefly, in silent con- 
trast to the unvarying ferocity of the Pompeian leaders. 
Two only of the transports which had left Brindisi were 
missing in the morning. They had gone by mistake into 
Lissa, and were surrounded by the boats of the enemy, 
who promised that no one should be injured if they sur- 
rendered. " Here," says Caesar, in a characteristic sen- 
tence, " may be observed the value of firmness of mind." 
One of the vessels had two hundred and twenty young 
soldiers on board, the other two hundred veterans. The 
recruits were sea-sick and frightened. They trusted the 
enemy's fair words, and were immediately murdered. The 
others forced their pilot to run the ship ashore. They cut 
their way through a band of Pompey's cavalry, and joined 
their comrades without the loss of a man. 

Antony's position was most dangerous, for Pompey's 
whole army lay between him and Caesar; but Caesar 
marched rapidly round Durazzo, and had joined his friend 
before Pompey knew that he had moved. 

Though still far outnumbered, Caesar was now in a con- 
dition to meet Pompey in the field, and desired nothing 
so much as decisive action. Pompey would not give him 
the opportunity, and kept within his lines. To show the 
world, therefore, how matters stood between them, Caesar 
drew a line of strongly fortified posts round Pompey's 
camp and shut him in. Force him to a surrender he could 
not, for the sea was open, and Pompey's fleet had entire 
command of it. But the moral effect on Italy of the news 
that Pompey was besieged might, it was hoped, force him 
out from his intrenchments. If Pompey could not venture 
to engage Caesar on his own chosen ground, and sur- 
rounded by his Eastern friends, his cause at home would be 
abandoned as lost. Nor was the active injury which 
Caesar was able to inflict inconsiderable. He turned the 
streams on which Pompey's camp depended for water. 
The horses and cattle died. Fever set in with other incon- 
veniences. The labour of the siege was, of course, severe. 

346 JULIUS CESAR [ B . c. 48 

The lines were many miles in length, and the difficulty 
of sending assistance to a point threatened by a sally was 
extremely great. The corn in the fields was still green, 
and supplies grew scanty. Meat Caesar's army had, but 
of wheat little or none; they were used to hardship, how- 
ever, and bore it with admirable humour. They made cakes 
out of roots, ground into paste and mixed with milk; and 
thus, in spite of privation and severe work, they remained 
in good health, and deserters daily came in to them. 

So the seige of Durazzo wore on, diversified with occa- 
sional encounters, which Caesar details with the minuteness 
of a scientific general writing for his profession, and with 
those admiring mentions of each individual act of courage 
which so intensely endeared him to his troops. Once an 
accidental opportunity offered itself for a successful storm, 
but Caesar was not on the spot. The officer in command 
shrank from responsibility; and, notwithstanding the seri- 
ousness of the consequences, Caesar said that the officer was 

Pompey's army was not yet complete. Metellus Scipio 
had not arrived with the Syrian legions. Scipio had come 
leisurely through Asia Minor, plundering cities and tem- 
ples and flaying the people with requisitions. He had now 
reached Macedonia, and Domitius Calvinus had been sent 
with a separate command to watch him. Caesar's own 
force, already too small for the business on hand, was thus 
further reduced, and at this moment there fell out one of 
those accidents which overtake at times the ablest com- 
manders, and gave occasion for Caesar's observation that 
Pompey knew not how to conquer. 

There were two young Gauls with Caesar whom he had 
promoted to important positions. They were reported to 
have committed various peculations. Caesar spoke to them 
privately. They took offence and deserted. There was a 
weak spot in Caesar's lines at a point the furthest removed 
from the body of the army. The Gauls gave Pompey no- 
tice of it, and on this point Pompey flung himself with his 
whole strength. The attack was a surprise. The engage- 

B. c. 48] RETREAT OF CESAR 347 

ment which followed was desperate and unequal, for the 
reliefs were distant and came up one by one. For once 
Caesar's soldiers were seized with panic, lost their order, 
and forgot their discipline. On the news of danger he 
flew himself to the scene, threw himself into the thickest of 
the fight, and snatched the standards from the flying bear- 
ers. But on this single occasion he failed in restoring 
confidence. The defeat was complete; and, had Pompey 
understood his business, Caesar's whole army might have 
been overthrown. Nearly a thousand men were killed, 
with many field officers and many centurions. Thirty-two 
standards were lost, and some hundreds of legionaries were 
taken. Labienus begged the prisoners of Pompey. He 
called them mockingly old comrades. He asked them how 
veterans came to fly. They were led into the midst of the 
camp and were all killed. 

Caesar's legions had believed themselves invincible. 
The effect of this misfortune was to mortify and infuriate 
them. They were eager to fling themselves again upon 
the enemy and win back their laurels; but Caesar saw that 
they were excited and unsteady, and that they required 
time to collect themselves. He spoke to them with his 
usual calm cheerfulness. He praised their courage. He 
reminded them of their many victories, and bade them not 
be cast down at a misadventure which they would soon 
repair; but he foresaw that the disaster would affect the 
temper of Greece and make his commissariat more difficult 
than it was already. He perceived that he must adopt 
some new plan of campaign, and with instant decision he 
fell back upon Apollonia. 

The gleam of victory was the cause of Pompey's ruin. 
It was unlooked for, and the importance of it exaggerated. 
Caesar was supposed to be flying with the wreck of an army 
completely disorganized and disheartened. So sure were 
the Pompeians that it could never rally again that they re- 
garded the war as over; they made no efforts to follow up 
a success which, if improved, might have been really decis- 
ive; and they gave Caesar the one thing which he needed, 

34^ JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 48 

time to recover from its effects. After he had placed his 
sick and wounded in security at Apollonia, his first object 
was to rejoin Calvinus, who had been sent to watch Scipio, 
and might now be cut off. Fortune was here favourable. 
Calvinus, by mere accident, learnt his danger, divined 
where Caesar would be, and came to meet him. The next 
thing was to see what Pompey would do. He might em- 
bark for Italy. In this case Caesar would have to follow 
him by Illyria and the head of the Adriatic. Cisalpine 
Gaul was true to him, and could be relied on to refill his 
ranks. Or Pompey might pursue him in the hope to make 
an end of the war in Greece, and an opportunity might 
offer itself for an engagement under fairer terms. On the 
whole he considered the second alternative the more likely 
one, and with this expectation he led his troops into the 
rich plains of Thessaly for the better feeding which they so 
much needed. The news of his defeat preceded him. 
Gomphi, an important Thessalian town, shut its gates upon 
him; and, that the example might not be followed, Gom- 
phi was instantly stormed and given up to plunder. One 
such lesson was enough. No more opposition was ven- 
tured by the Greek cities. 

Pompey meanwhile had broken up from Durazzo, and 
after being joined by Scipio was following leisurely. 
There were not wanting persons who warned him that 
Caesar's legions might still be dangerous. Both Cicero 
and Cato had advised him to avoid a battle, to allow Caesar 
to wander about Greece till his supplies failed and his 
army was worn out by marches. Pompey himself was in- 
clined to the same opinion. But Pompey was no longer 
able to act on his own judgment. The senators who were 
with him in the camp considered that in Greece, as in 
Rome, they were the supreme rulers of the Roman Em- 
pire. All along they had held their sessions and their de- 
bates, and they had voted resolutions which they ex- 
pected to see complied with. They had never liked Pom- 
pey. If Cicero was right in supposing that Pompey meant 
to be another Sylla, the senators had no intention of allow- 


ing it. They had gradually wrested his authority out of 
his hands, and reduced him to the condition of an officer of 
a Senatorial Directory. These gentlemen, more especially 
the two late consuls, Scipio and Lentulus, were persuaded 
that a single blow would now make an end of Caesar. His 
army was but half the size of theirs, without counting the 
Asiatic auxiliaries. The men, they were persuaded, were 
dispirited by defeat and worn out. So sure were they of 
victory that they were impatient of every day which de- 
layed their return to Italy. They accused Pompey of pro- 
tracting the war unnecessarily, that he might have the hon- 
our of commanding such distinguished persons as them- 
selves. They had arranged everything that was to be 
done. Caesar and his band of cut-throats were in imagin- 
ation already despatched. They had butchered hitherto 
every one of them who had fallen into their hands, and the 
same fate was designed for their political allies. They pro- 
posed to establish a senatorial court after their return to 
Italy in which citizens of all kinds who had not actually 
fought on the Senate's side were to be brought up for trial. 
Those who should be proved to have been active for Caesar 
were to be at once killed, and their estates confiscated. 
Neutrals were to fare almost as badly. Not to have as- 
sisted the lawful rulers of the State was scarcely better than 
to have rebelled against them. They, too, were liable to 
death or forfeiture, or both. A third class of offenders was 
composed of those who had been within Pompey's lines, 
but had borne no part in the fighting. These cold-hearted 
friends were to be tried and punished according to the de- 
gree of their criminality. Cicero was the person pointed 
at in the last division. Cicero's clear judgment had shown 
him too clearly what was likely to be the result of a cam- 
paign conducted as he found it on his arrival, and he had 
spoken his thoughts with sarcastic freedom. The noble 
lords came next to a quarrel among themselves as to how 
the spoils of Caesar were to be divided. Domitius Aheno- 
barbus, Lentulus Spinther, and Scipio were unable to de- 
termine which of them was to succeed Caesar as Pontifex 

350 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 48 

Maximus, and which was to have his palace and gardens 
in Rome. The Roman oligarchy were true to their char- 
acter to the eve of their ruin. It was they, with their idle 
luxury, their hunger for lands and office and preferment, 
who had brought all this misery upon their country; and 
standing, as it were, at the very bar of judgment, with the 
sentence of destruction about to be pronounced upon 
them, their thoughts were still bent upon how to secure 
the largest share of plunder for themselves. 

The battle of Pharsalia was not the most severe, still less 
was it the last, action of the war. But it acquired a spe- 
cial place in history, because it was a battle fought by the 
Roman aristocracy in their own persons in defence of their 
own supremacy. Senators and the sons of senators; the 
heirs of the names and fortunes of the ancient Roman fami- 
lies; the leaders of society in Roman saloons, and the chiefs 
of the political party of the Optimates in the Curia and 
Forum, were here present on the field; representatives in 
person and in principle of the traditions of Sylla, brought 
face to face with the representatives of Marius. Here were 
the men who had pursued Caesar through so many years 
with a hate so inveterate. Here were the haughty Patri- 
cian Guard, who had drawn their swords on him in the Sen- 
ate-house, young lords whose theory of life was to lounge 
through it in patrician insouciance. The other great ac- 
tions were fought by the ignoble multitude, whose deaths 
were of less significance. The plains of Pharsalia were 
watered by the precious blood of the elect of the earth. 
The battle there marked an epoch like no other in the 
history of the world. 

For some days the two armies had watched each other's 
movements. Caesar, to give his men confidence, had again 
offered Pompey an opportunity of righting. But Pompey 
had kept to positions where he could not be attacked. To 
draw him into more open ground, Caesar had shifted his 
camp continually. Pompey had followed cautiously, still 
remaining on his guard. His political advisers were impa- 
tient of these dilatory movements. They taunted him 

B.C. 48] PHARSALIA 35 1 

with cowardice. They insisted that he should set his foot 
on this insignificant adversary promptly and at once; and 
Pompey, gathering courage from their confidence, and 
trusting to his splendid cavalry, agreed at last to use the 
first occasion that presented itself. 

One morning, on the Enipeus, near Larissa, the 9th of 
August, old style, or towards the end of May by real time, 
Caesar had broken up his camp and was preparing for his 
usual leisurely march, when he perceived a movement in 
Pompey's lines which told him that the movement which 
he had so long expected was come. Labienus, the evil 
genius of the Senate, who had tempted them into the war 
by telling them that his comrades were as disaffected as 
himself, and had fired Caesar's soldiers into intensified 
fierceness by his barbarities at Durazzo, had spoken the 
deciding word: " Believe not," Labienus had said, "that 
this is the army which defeated the Gauls and the Germans. 
I was in those battles, and what I say I know. That army 
has disappeared. Part fell in action; part perished of fever 
in the autumn in Italy. Many went home. Many were 
left behind unable to move. The men you see before you 
are levies newly drawn from the colonies beyond the Po. 
Of the veterans that were left the best were killed at 

A council of war had been held at dawn. There had 
been a solemn taking of oaths again. Labienus swore that 
he would not return to the camp except as a conqueror; 
so swore Pompey; so swore Lentulus, Scipio, Domitius; so 
swore all the rest. They had reason for their high spirits. 
Pompey had forty-seven thousand Roman infantry, not in- 
cluding his allies, and seven thousand cavalry. Caesar had 
but twenty-two thousand, and of horse only a thousand. 
Pompey's position was carefully chosen. His right wing 
was covered by the Enipeus, the opposite bank of which 
was steep and wooded. His left spread out into the open 
plain of Pharsalia. His plan of battle was to send forward 
his cavalry outside over the open ground, with clouds of 
archers and slingers, to scatter Caesar's horse, and then to 

352 JULIUS C^SAR [B.C. 48 

wheel round and envelop his legions. Thus he had 
thought they would lose heart and scatter at the first shock. 
Caesar had foreseen what Pompey would attempt to do. 
His own scanty cavalry, mostly Gauls and Germans, would, 
he well knew, be unequal to the weight which would be 
thrown on them. He had trained an equal number of 
picked active men to fight in their ranks, and had thus 
doubled their strength. Fearing that this might be not 
enough, he had taken another precaution. The usual Ro- 
man formation in battle was in triple line. Caesar had 
formed a fourth line of cohorts specially selected to en- 
gage the cavalry; and on them, he said, in giving them 
their instructions, the result of the action would probably 

Pompey commanded on his own left with the two le- 
gions which he had taken from Caesar; outside him on the 
plain were his flying companies of Greeks and islanders, 
with the cavalry covering them. Caesar, with his favourite 
Tenth, was opposite Pompey. His two faithful tribunes, 
Mark Antony and Cassius Longinus, led the left and cen- 
tre. Servilia's son, Marcus Brutus, was in Pompey's 
army. Caesar had given special directions that Brutus, if 
recognised, should not be injured. Before the action be- 
gan he spoke a few general words to such of his troops 
as could hear him. They all knew, he said, how earnestly 
he had sought for peace, how careful he had always been 
of his soldiers' lives, how unwilling to deprive the State 
of the services of any of her citizens, to whichever party 
they might belong. Crastinus, a centurion, of the Tenth 
legion, already known to Caesar for his gallantry, called 
out, " Follow me, my comrades, and strike, and strike 
home, for your general. This one battle remains to be 
fought, and he will have his rights and we our liberty. 
General," he said, looking to Caesar, " I shall earn your 
thanks this dav, dead or alive. ,, 

Pompey had ordered his first line to stand still to receive 
Caesar's charge. 5 They would thus be fresh, while the 
enemy would reach them exhausted — a mistake on Pom- 

b. c. 48] PHARSALIA 353 

pey's part, as Caesar thought; " for a fire and alacrity (he 
observed) is kindled in all men when they meet in battle, 
and a wise general should rather encourage than repress 
their fervour." 

The signal was given. Caesar's front rank advanced 
running. Seeing the Pompeians did not move, they 
halted, recovered breath, then rushed on, flung their darts, 
and closed sword in hand. At once Pompey's horse bore 
down, outflanking Caesar's right wing, with the archers be- 
hind and between them raining showers of arrows. 
Caesar's cavalry gave way before the shock, and the outer 
squadrons came wheeling round to the rear, expecting that 
there would be no one to encounter them. The fourth 
line, the pick and flower of the legions, rose suddenly in 
their way. Surprised and shaken by the fierceness of the 
attack on them, the Pompeians turned, they broke, they 
galloped wildly off. The best cavalry in those Roman bat- 
tles were never a match for infantry when in close forma- 
tion, and Pompey's brilliant squadrons were carpet knights 
from the saloon and the circus. They never rallied, or 
tried to rally; they made off for the nearest hills. The 
archers were cut to pieces; and the chosen corps, having 
finished so easily the service for which they had been told 
off, threw themselves on the now exposed flank of Pom- 
pey's left wing. It was composed, as has been said, of the 
legions which had once been Caesar's, which had fought 
under him at the Vingeanne and at Alesia. They ill liked, 
perhaps, the change of masters, and were in no humour to 
stand the charge of their old comrades coming on with the 
familiar rush of victory. Caesar ordered up his third line, 
which had not yet been engaged; and at once on all sides 
Pompey's great army gave way, and fled. Pompey him- 
self, the shadow of his old name, long harassed out of self- 
respect by his senatorial directors, a commander only in 
appearance, had left the field in the beginning of the ac- 
tion. He had lost heart on the defeat of the cavalry, and 
had retired to his tent to wait the issue of the day. 

The stream of fugitives pouring in told him too surely 

3S4 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 48 

what the issue had been. He sprang upon his horse and 
rode off in despair. His legions were rushing back in con- 
fusion. Caesar, swift always at the right moment, gave the 
enemy no leisure to reform, and fell at once upon the camp. 
It was noon, and the morning had been sultry; but the 
heat and weariness were forgotten in the enthusiasm of a 
triumph which all then believed must conclude the war. A 
few companies of Thracians, who had been left on guard, 
made a brief resistance, but they were soon borne down. 
The beaten army, which a few hours before were sharing 
in imagination the lands and offices of their conquerors, 
fled out through the opposite gates, throwing away their 
arms, flinging down their standards, and racing, officers 
and men, for the rocky hills which at a mile's distance 
promised them shelter. 

The camp itself was a singular picture. Houses of turf 
had been built for the luxurious patricians, with ivy trained 
over the entrances to shade their delicate faces from the 
summer sun; couches had been laid out for them to repose 
on after their expected victory; tables were spread with 
plate and wines, and the daintiest preparations of Roman 
cookery. Caesar commented on the scene with mournful 
irony. " And these men," he said, " accused my patient, 
suffering army, which had not even common necessaries, 
of dissoluteness and profligacy! " 

Two hundred only of Caesar's men had fallen. The offi- 
cers had suffered most. The gallant Crastinus, who had 
nobly fulfilled his promise, had been killed, among many 
others, in opening a way for his comrades. The Pom- 
peians, after the first shock, had been cut down unresisting. 
Fifteen thousand of them lay scattered dead about the 
ground. There were few wounded in these battles. The 
short sword of the Romans seldom left its work unfinished. 

" They would have it so," Caesar is reported to have 
said, as he looked sadly over the littered bodies in the fa- 
miliar patrician dress. " After all that I had done for my 
country, I, Caius Caesar, should have been condemned by 
them as a criminal if I had not appealed to my army." 6 

b. c. 48] PHARSALIA 355 

But Caesar did not wait to indulge in reflections. His 
object was to stamp the fire out on the spot, that it might 
never kindle again. More than half the Pompeians had 
reached the hills and were making for Larissa. Leaving 
part of his legions in the camp to rest, Caesar took the 
freshest the same evening, and by a rapid march cut off 
their line of retreat. The hills were waterless, the weather 
suffocating. A few of the guiltiest of the Pompeian lead- 
ers, Labienus, Lentulus, Afranius, Petreius, and Metellus 
Scipio (Cicero and Cato had been left at Durazzo), con- 
trived to escape in the night. The rest, twenty-four thou- 
sand of them, surrendered at daylight. They came down 
praying for mercy which they had never shown, sobbing 
out their entreaties on their knees that the measure which 
they had dealt to others might not be meted out to them. 
Then and always Caesar hated unnecessary cruelty, and 
never, if he could help it, allowed executions in cold blood. 
He bade them rise, said a few gentle words to relieve their 
fears, and sent them back to the camp. Domitius Aheno- 
barbus, believing that for him at least there could be no 
forgiveness, tried to escape, and was killed. The rest were 

So ended the battle of Pharsalia. A hundred and eighty 
standards were taken and all the eagles of Pompey's le- 
gions. In Pompey's own tent was found his secret corre- 
spondence, implicating persons, perhaps, whom Caesar had 
never suspected, revealing the mysteries of the past three 
years. Curiosity and ?ven prudence might have tempted 
him to look into it. His only wish was that the past 
should be forgotten: he burnt the whole mass of papers 

Would the war now end? That was the question. 
Caesar thought that it would not end as long as Pompey 
was at large. The feelings of others may be gathered out 
of abridgments from Cicero's letters: 

356 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 48 


" Victory on one side meant massacre, on the other 
slavery. It consoles me to remember that I forsaw these 
things, and as much feared the success of our cause as the 
defeat of it. I attached myself to Pompey's party more in 
hope of peace than from desire of war; but I saw, if we had 
the better, how cruel would be the triumph of an exas- 
perated, avaricious, and insolent set of men; if we were de- 
feated, how many of our wealthiest and noblest citizens 
must fall. Yet when I argued thus and offered my advice 
I was taunted for being a coward." 


" We were both opposed to a continuance of the war 
[after Pharsalia]. I, perhaps, more than you; but we 
agreed that one battle should be accepted as decisive, if 
not of the whole cause, yet of our own judgment upon it. 
Nor were there any who differed from us save those who 
thought it better that the constitution should be destroyed 
altogether than be preserved with diminished prerogatives. 
For myself I could hope nothing from the overthrow of it, 
and much if a remnant could be saved. . . And I 
thought it likely that after that decisive battle the victors 
would consider the welfare of the public, and that the van- 
quished would consider their own." 

to varro 9 

" You were absent [at the critical moment]. I for my- 
self perceived that our friends wanted war, and that Caesar 
did not want it, but was not afraid of it. Thus much of 
human purpose was in the matter. The rest came neces- 
sarily; for one side or the other would, of course, conquer. 
You and I both grieved to see how the State would suffer 
from the loss of either army and its generals; we knew that 
victory in a civil war was itself a most miserable disaster. I 
dreaded the success of those to whom I had attached my- 

B. c. 48] PHARSALIA 357 

self. They threatened most cruelly those who had stayed 
quietly at home. Your sentiments and my speeches were 
alike hateful to them. If our side had won, they would 
have shown no forbearance. ,, 



" When you met me on the 13th of May (49), you were 
anxious about the part which I was to take. If I stayed 
in Italy, you feared that I should be wanting in duty. To 
go to the war you thought dangerous to me. I was my- 
self so disturbed that I could not tell what it was best for 
me to do. I consulted my reputation, however, more than 
my safety, and if I afterwards repented of my decision it 
was not for the peril to myself, but on account of the state 
of things which I found on my arrival at Pompey's camp. 
His forces were not very considerable nor good of their 
kind. For the chiefs, if I except the general and a few 
others, they were rapacious in their conduct of the war, 
and so savage in their language that I dreaded to see them 
victorious. The most considerable among them were 
overwhelmed with debt. There was nothing good about 
them but their cause. I despaired of success and recom- 
mended peace. When Pompey would not hear of it, I 
advised him to protract the war. This for the time he ap- 
proved, and he might have continued firm but for the con- 
fidence which he gathered from the battle at Durazzo. 
From that day the great man ceased to be a general. 
With a raw and inexperienced army he engaged legions 
in perfect discipline. On the defeat he basely deserted his 
camp and fled by himself. For me this was the end: I re- 
tired from a war in which the only alternatives before me 
were either to be killed in action or be taken prisoner, or 
fly to Juba in Africa, or hide in exile, or destroy myself." 

to c^ecina 1X 

" I would tell you my prophecies but that you would 
think I had made them after the event. But many per- 
sons can bear me witness that I first warned Pompey 

358 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 48 

against attaching himself to Caesar, and then against quar- 
relling with him. Their union (I said) had broken the 
power of the Senate; their discord would cause a civil war. 
I was intimate with Caesar; I was most attached to Pom- 
pey; but my advice was for the good of them both. . . 
I thought that Pompey ought to go to Spain. Had he 
done so, the war would not have been. I did not so much 
insist that Caesar could legally stand for the consulship as 
that his name should be accepted, because the people had 
so ordered at Pompey's own instance. I advised, I en- 
treated. I preferred the most unfair peace to the most 
righteous war. I was overborne, not so much by Pom- 
pey (for on him I produced an effect) as by men who re- 
lied on Pompey's leadership to win them a victory, which 
would be convenient for their personal interests and pri- 
vate ambitions. No misfortune has happened in the war 
which I did not predict." 


1 Page 333. To Atticus, ii. 18. 

2 Page 336. " Tullia bids me wait till I see how things go in Spain, 
and she says you are of the same opinion. The advice would be good, 
if I could adapt my conduct to the issue of events there. But one of 
three alternatives must happen. Either Caesar will be driven back, 
which would please me best, or the war will be protracted, or he will 
be completely victorious. If he is defeated, Pompey will thank me 
little for joining him. Curio himself will then go over to him. If the 
war hangs on, how long am I to wait ? If Caesar conquers, it is thought 
we may then have peace. But I consider, on the other hand, that it 
would be more decent to forsake Caesar in success than when beaten 
and in difficulties. The victory of Caesar means massacre, confiscation, 
recall of exiles, a clean sweep of debts, every worst man raised to 
honour, and a rule which not only a Roman citizen but a Persian could 
not endure. . . Pompey will not lay down his arms for the loss of 
Spain; he holds with Themistocles that those who are masters at sea 
will be the victors in the end. He has neglected Spain. He has given 
all his care to his ships. When the time comes he will return to Italy 
with an overwhelming fleet. And what will he say to me if he finds 
me still sitting here ? — Let alone duty, I must think of the danger. . . 
Every course has its perils ; but I should surely avoid a course which is 
both ignominious and perilous also. 

" I did not accompany Pompey when he went himself ? I could not. 

b. c. 48] PHARSALIA 359 

I had not time. And yet, to confess the truth, I made a mistake which, 
perhaps, I should not have made. I thought there would be peace, and 
I would not have Caesar angry with me after he and Pompey had be- 
come friends again. Thus I hesitated; but 1 can overtake my fault if 
I lose no more time, and I am lost if I delay. — I see that Caesar cannot 
stand long. He will fall of himself if we do nothing. When his affairs 
were most flourishing, he became unpopular with the hungry rabble of 
the city in six or seven days. He could not keep up the mask. His 
harshness to Metellus destroyed his credit for clemency, and his taking 
money from the treasury destroyed his reputation for riches. 

"As to his followers, how can men govern provinces who cannot 
manage their own affairs for two months together? Such a monarchy 
could not last half a year. The wisest men have miscalculated. . . 
If that is my case, I must bear the reproach. . . but I am sure it will 
be as I say. Caesar will fall, either by his enemies or by himself, who 
is his worst enemy. . . I hope I may live to see it, though you and I 
should be thinking more of the other life than of this transitory one ; 
but so it come, no matter whether I see it or foresee it." — To Atticus, 
x. 8. 

3 Page 344. " Nam hie nunc praeter foeneratores paucos nee homo nee 
ordo quisquam est nisi Pompeianus. Equidem jam effeci ut maxime 
plebs et qui antea noster fuit populus vester esset." — Caelius to Cicero, 
Ad. Fam., viii. 17. 

4 Page 344. Caesar says nothing of his putting to sea in a boat, mean- 
ing to go over in person, and being driven back by the weather. The 
story is probably no more than one of the picturesque additions to 
reality made by men who find truth too tame for them. 

6 Page 352. I follow Caesar's own account of the action. Appian is 
minutely circumstantial, and professes to describe from the narratives 
of eye-witnesses. But his story varies so far from Caesar's as to be irre- 
concilable with it, and Caesar's own authority is incomparably the best. 

6 Page 354. Suetonius, quoting from Asinius Pollio, who was present 
at the battle. 

' Page 356. Ad Familiares, iv. 14. 

8 Page 356. lb., xv. 15. 

9 Page 356. lb., ix. 6. 

10 Page 357. lb., vii. 3. 
"Page 357. lb., vi. 6. 


THE strength of the senatorial party lay in Pompey's 
popularity in the East. A halo was still supposed 
to hang about him as the creator of the Eastern 
Empire, and so long as he was alive and at liberty there 
was always a possibility that he might collect a new army. 
To overtake him, to reason with him, and, if reason failed, 
to prevent him by force from involving himself and the 
State in fresh difficulties, was Caesar's first object. Pom- 
pey, it was found, had ridden from the battlefield direct 
to the sea, attended by a handful of horse. He had gone 
on board a grain vessel which carried him to Amphipolis. 
At Amphipolis he had stayed but a single night, and had 
sailed for Mitylene, where he had left his wife and his sons. 
The last accounts which the poor lady had heard of him 
had been such as reached Lesbos after the affair at Du- 
razzo. Young patricians had brought her word that her 
husband had gained a glorious victory, that he had joined 
her father, Metellus Scipio, and that together they were 
pursuing Caesar with the certainty of overwhelming him. 
Rumour, cruel as usual — 

Had brought smooth comforts false, worse than true wrongs. 

Rumour had told Cornelia that Caesar had " stooped his 
head " before Pompey's " rage." Pompey came in per- 
son to inform her of the miserable reality. At Mitylene 
Pompey's family were no longer welcome guests. They 
joined him on board his ship to share his fortunes, but 
what those fortunes were to be was all uncertain. Asia 
had seemed devoted to him. To what part of it should he 
go? To Cilicia? to Syria? to Armenia? To Parthia? 
For even Parthia was thought of. Unhappily the report 
of Pharsalia had flown before him, and the vane of senti- 



ment had everywhere veered round. The ^Egean islands 
begged him politely not to compromise them by his pres- 
ence. He touched at Rhodes. Lentulus, flying from the 
battlefield, had tried Rhodes before him, and had been re- 
quested to pass on upon his way. Lentulus was said to 
be gone to Egypt. Polite to Pompey the Rhodians were, 
but perhaps he was generously unwilling to involve them 
in trouble in his behalf. He went on to Cilicia, the scene 
of his old glory in the pirate wars. There he meant to 
land and take refuge either with the Parthians or with one 
of the allied princes. But in Cilicia he heard that Anti- 
och had declared for Caesar. Allies and subjects, as far 
as he could learn, were all for Caesar. Egypt, whither 
Lentulus had gone, appeared the only place where he could 
surely calculate on being welcome. Ptolemy the Piper, 
the occasion of so much scandal, was no longer living, but 
he owed the recovery of his throne to Pompey. Gabinius 
had left a few thousand of Pompey's old soldiers at Alex- 
andria to protect him against his subjects. These men 
had married Egyptian wives and had adopted Egyptian 
habits, but they could not have forgotten their old gen- 
eral. They were acting as guards at present to Ptolemy's 
four children, two girls, Cleopatra and Arsinoe, and two 
boys, each called Ptolemy. The father had bequeathed 
the crown to the two elder ones, Cleopatra, who was 
turned sixteen, and a brother two years younger. Here, 
at least, among these young princes and their guardians, 
who had been their father's friends, their father's greatest 
benefactor might count with confidence en finding hos- 

For Egypt, therefore, Pompey sailed, taking his family 
along with him. He had collected a few ships and 2000 
miscellaneous followers, and with them he arrived off 
Pelusium, the modern Damietta. His forlorn condition 
was a punishment sufficiently terrible for the vanity which 
had flung his country into war. But that it had been his 
own doing the letters of Cicero prove with painful clear- 
ness; and though he had partially seen his error at Capua, 

362 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 48 

and would then have possibly drawn back, the passions 
and hopes which he had excited had become too strong 
for him to contend against. From the day of his flight 
from Italy he had been as a leaf whirled upon a winter 
torrent. Plain enough it had long been to him that he 
would not be able to govern the wild forces of a reaction 
which, if it had prevailed, would have brought back a more 
cruel tyranny than Sylla's. He was now flung as a waif 
on the shore of a foreign land; and if Providence on each 
occasion proportioned the penalties of misdoing to the 
magnitude of the fault, it might have been considered that 
adequate retribution had been inflicted on him. But the 
consequences of the actions of men live when the actions 
are themselves forgotten, and come to light without re- 
guard to the fitness of the moment. The Senators of Rome 
were responsible for the exactions which Ptolemy Auletes 
had been compelled to wring out of his subjects. Pom- 
pey himself had entertained and supported him in Rome 
when he was driven from his throne, and had connived at 
the murder of the Alexandrians who had been sent to re- 
monstrate against his restoration. It was by Pompey that 
he had been forced again upon his miserable subjects, and 
had been compelled to grind them with fresh extortions. 
It was not unnatural under these circumstances that the 
Egyptians were eager to free themselves from a subjec- 
tion which bore more heavily on them than annexation 
to the Empire. A national party had been formed on 
Ptolemy's death to take advantage of the minority of his 
children. Cleopatra had been expelled. The Alexan- 
drian citizens kept her brother in their hands, and were 
now ruling in his name; the demoralized Roman garrison 
had been seduced into supporting them, and they had an 
army lying at the time at Pelusium, to guard against Cleo- 
patra and her friends. 

Of all this Pompey knew nothing. When he arrived 
off the port he learnt that the young king with a body of 
troops was in the neighbourhood, and he sent on shore to 
ask permission to land. The Egyptians had already heard 

b. c. 48] DEATH OF POMPEY 363 

of Pharsalia. Civil war among the Romans was an op- 
portunity for them to assert their independence, or to se- 
cure their liberties by taking the side which seemed most 
likely to be successful. Lentulus had already arrived, and 
had been imprisoned — a not natural return for the murder 
of Dion and his fellow-citizens. Pompey, whose name 
more than that of any other Roman was identified with 
their sufferings, was now placing himself spontaneously 
in their hands. Why, by sparing him, should they neglect 
the opportunity of avenging their own wrongs, and of 
earning, as they might suppose that they would, the last- 
ing gratitude of Caesar? The Roman garrison had no feel- 
ing for their once glorious commander. " In calamity," 
Caesar observes, " friends easily become foes." The guar- 
dians of the young king sent a smooth answer, bidding 
Pompey welcome. The water being shallow, they de- 
spatched Achillas, a prefect in the king's army, and Sep- 
timius, a Roman officer, whom Pompey personally knew, 
with a boat to conduct him on shore. His wife and friends 
distrusted the tone of the reception, and begged him to 
wait till he could land with his own guard. The presence 
of Septimius gave Pompey confidence. Weak men, when 
in difficulties, fall into a kind of despairing fatalism, as if 
tired of contending longer with adverse fortune. Pom- 
pey stepped into the boat, and when out of arrow-shot 
from the ship was murdered under his wife's eyes. His 
head was cut off and carried away. His body was left lying 
on the sands. A man who had been once his slave, and 
had been set free by him, gathered a few sticks and burnt 
it there; and thus the last rites were bestowed upon one 
whom, a few months before, Caesar himself would have 
been content to acknowledge as his superior. 

So ended Pompey the Great. History has dealt tenderly 
with him on account of his misfortunes, and has not re- 
fused him deserved admiration for qualities as rare in his 
age as they were truly excellent. His capacities as a sol- 
dier were not extraordinary. He had risen to distinction 
by his honesty. The pirates who had swept the Mediter- 

364 JULIUS CJESAR [b. c. 48 

ranean had bought their impunity by a tribute paid to 
senators and governors. They were suppressed instantly 
when a commander was sent against them whom they were 
unable to bribe. The conquest of Asia was no less easy to 
a man who could resist temptations to enrich himself. 
The worst enemy of Pompey never charged him with cor- 
ruption or rapacity. So far as he was himself concerned, 
the restoration of Ptolemy was gratuitous, for he received 
nothing for it. His private fortune when he had the world 
at his feet was never more than moderate; nor as a poli- 
tician did his faults extend beyond weakness and incompe- 
tence. Unfortunately he had acquired a position by his 
negative virtues which was above his natural level, and 
misled him into overestimating his capabilities. So long 
as he stood by Caesar he had maintained his honour and 
his authority. He allowed men more cunning than him- 
self to play upon his vanity, and Pompey fell — fell amidst 
the ruins of a constitution which had been undermined by 
the villainies of his representatives. His end was piteous, 
but scarcely tragic, for the cause to which he was sacrificed 
was too slightly removed from being ignominious. He 
was no Phoebus Apollo sinking into the ocean, surrounded 
with glory. He was not even a brilliant meteor. He was 
a weak good man, whom accident had thrust into a place 
to which he was unequal; and ignorant of himself, and un- 
willing to part with his imaginary greatness, he was flung 
down with careless cruelty by the forces which were 
dividing the world. His friend Lentulus shared his fate, 
and was killed a few days later, while Pompey's ashes were 
still smoking. Two of Bibulus's sons, who had accom- 
panied him, were murdered as well. 

Caesar meanwhile had followed along Pompey's track, 
hoping to overtake him. In Cilicia he heard where he was 
gone; and learning something more accurately there of 
the state of Egypt, he took two legions with him, one of 
which had attended him from Pharsalia, and another which 
he had sent for from Achaia. With these he sailed for Alex- 
andria. Together, so much had they been thinned by hard 


service, these legions mustered between them little over 
3000 men. The force was small, but Caesar considered 
that, after Pharsalia, there could be no danger for him 
anywhere in the Mediterranean. He landed without op- 
position, and was presented on his arrival, as a supposed 
welcome offering, with the head of his rival. Politically 
it would have been better far for him to have returned to 
Rome with Pompey as a friend. Nor, if it had been cer- 
tain that Pompey would have refused to be reconciled, 
were services such as this a road to Caesar's favour. The 
Alexandrians speedily found that they were not to be re- 
warded with the desired independence. The consular 
fasces, the emblem of the hated Roman authority, were 
carried openly before Caesar when he appeared in the 
streets; and it was not long before mobs began to assemble 
with cries that Egypt was a free country, and that the 
people would not allow their king to be insulted. Evi- 
dently there was business to be done in Egypt before 
Caesar could leave it. Delay was specially inconvenient. 
A prolonged absence from Italy would allow faction time 
to rally again. But Caesar did not look on himself as the 
leader of a party, but as the guardian of Roman interests, 
and it was not his habit to leave any necessary work un- 
completed. The Etesian winds, too, had set in, which made 
it difficult for his heavy vessels tc work out of the harbour. 
Seeing that troubles might rise, he sent a message to Mith- 
ridates of Pergamus, 1 to bring reinforcements from Syria, 
while he himself at once took the government of Egypt 
into his hands. He forbade the Alexandrians to set aside 
Ptolemy's will, and insisted that the sovereignty must be 
vested jointly in Cleopatra and her brother as their father 
had ordered. 2 The cries of discontent grew bolder. 
Alexandria was a large, populous city, the common re- 
ceptacle of vagabonds from all parts of the Mediterranean. 
Pirates, thieves, political exiles, and outlaws had taken 
refuge there, and had been received into the king's service. 
With the addition of the dissolute legionaries left by Ga- 
binius, they made up 20,000 as dangerous ruffians as had 

366 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 48 

ever been gathered into a single city. The more respect- 
able citizens had no reason to love the Romans. The fate 
of Cyprus seemed a foreshadowing of their own. They, 
too, unless they looked to themselves, would be absorbed 
in the devouring Empire. They had made an end of Pom- 
pey, and Caesar had shown no gratitude. Caesar himself 
was now in their hands. Till the wind changed they 
thought that he could not escape, and they were tempted, 
naturally enough, to use the chance which fate had given 

Pothinus, a palace eunuch and one of young Ptolemy's 
guardians, sent secretly for the troops at Pelusium, and 
gave the command to Achillas, the officer who had mur- 
dered Pompey. The city rose when they came in, and 
Caesar found himself blockaded in the palace and the part 
of the city which joined the outer harbour. The situation 
was irritating from its absurdity, but more or less it was 
really dangerous. The Egyptian fleet which had been sent 
to Greece in aid of Pompey had come back, and was in 
the inner basin. It outnumbered Caesar's, and the Alex- 
andrians were the best seamen in the Mediterranean. If 
they came out, they might cut his communications. 
Without hesitation he set fire to the docks; burnt or dis- 
abled the greater part of the ships; seized the Pharos and 
the mole which connected it with the town; fortified the 
palace and the line of houses occupied by his troops; and 
in this position he remained for several weeks, defending 
himself against the whole power of Egypt. Of the time 
in which legend describes him as abandoned to his love for 
Cleopatra, there was hardly an hour of either day or night 
in which he was not fighting for his very life. The Alex- 
andrians were ingenious and indefatigable. They pumped 
the sea into the conduits which supplied his quarters with 
water, for a moment it seemed with fatal effect. Fresh 
water was happily found by sinking wells. They made a 
new fleet; old vessels on the stocks were launched, others 
were brought down from the canals on the river. They 
made oars and spars out of the benches and tables of the 

B. c. 48-47] REVOLT IN ALEXANDRIA 367 

professors' lecture rooms. With these they made desper- 
ate attempts to retake the mole. Once with a sudden rush 
they carried a ship, in which Caesar was present in person, 
and he was obliged to swim for his life. 3 Still he held on, 
keeping up his men's spirits, and knowing that relief must 
arrive in time. He was never greater than in unlooked- 
for difficulties. He never rested. He was always invent- 
ing some new contrivance. He could have retired from 
the place with no serious loss. He could have taken to 
his ships and forced his way to sea in spite of the winds and 
the Alexandrians. But he felt that to fly from such an 
enemy would dishonour the Roman name, and he would 
not entertain the thought of it. 

The Egyptians made desperate efforts to close the har- 
bour. Finding that they could neither capture the Pharos 
nor make an impression on Caesar's lines, they affected to 
desire peace. Caesar had kept young Ptolemy with him as 
a security. They petitioned that he should be given up to 
them, promising on compliance to discontinue their as- 
saults. Caesar did not believe them. But the boy was of 
no use to him, the army wished him gone, for they thought 
him treacherous, and his presence would not strengthen 
the enemy. Caesar, says Hirtius, considered that it would 
be more respectable to be fighting with a king than with 
a gang of ruffians. Young Ptolemy was released, and 
joined his countrymen, and the war went on more fiercely 
than before. Pompey's murderers were brought to justice 
in the course of it. Pothinus fell into Caesar's hands, and 
was executed. Ganymede, another eunuch, assassinated 
Achillas, and took his place as commander-in-chief. Re- 
inforcements began to come in. Mithridates had not yet 
been heard of; but Domitius Calvinus, who had been left 
in charge of Asia Minor, and to whom Caesar had also sent, 
had despatched two legions to him. One arrived by sea at 
Alexandria, and was brought in with some difficulty. The 
other was sent by land, and did not arrive in time to be of 
service. There was a singular irony in Caesar being left to 
struggle for months with a set of miscreants, but the trial 

368 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 47 

came to an end at last. Mithridates, skilful, active, and faith- 
ful, had raised a force with extraordinary rapidity in Cilicia 
and on the Euphrates. He had marched swiftly through 
Syria; and in the beginning of the new year Caesar heard 
the welcome news that he had reached Pelusium, and had 
taken it by storm. Not delaying for a day, Mithridates 
had gone up the bank of the Nile to Cairo. A division of 
the Egyptian army lay opposite to him, in the face of whom 
he did not think it prudent to attempt to cross, and from 
thence he sent word of his position to Caesar. The news 
reached Caesar and the Alexandrians at the same moment. 
The Alexandrians had the easiest access to the scene. 
They had merely to ascend the river in their boats. Caesar 
was obliged to go round by sea to Pelusium, and to follow 
the course which Mithridates had taken himself. Rapidity 
of movement made up the difference. Taking with him 
such cohorts as could be spared from his lines, Caesar had 
joined Mithridates before the Alexandrians had arrived. 
Together they forced the passage; and Ptolemy came only 
for his camp to be stormed, his army to be cut to pieces, 
and himself to be drowned in the Nile, and so end his brief 
and miserable life. 

Alexandria immediately capitulated. Arsinoe, the 
youngest sister, was sent to Rome. Cleopatra and her 
surviving brother were made joint sovereigns, and Roman 
rumour, glad to represent Caesar's actions in monstrous 
characters, insisted in after years that they were married. 
The absence of contemporary authority for the story pre- 
cludes also the possibility of denying it. Two legions were 
left in Egypt to protect them if they were faithful, or to 
coerce them if they misconducted themselves. The Alex- 
andrian episode was over, and Caesar sailed for Syria. His 
long detention over a complication so insignificant had 
been unfortunate in many ways. Scipio and Cato, with 
the other fugitives from Pharsalia, had rallied in Africa, 
under the protection of Juba. Italy was in confusion. 
The popular party, now absolutely in the ascendant, 
were disposed to treat the aristocracy as the aristocracy 

B. c. 47] FRESH DISORDERS 369 

would have treated them had they been victorious. 
The controlling hand was absent; the rich, long hated and 
envied, were in the power of the multitude, and wild 
measures were advocated, communistic, socialistic, such as 
are always heard of in revolutions, meaning in one form or 
another the equalization of wealth, the division of property, 
the poor taking their turn on the upper crest of fortune 
and the rich at the bottom. The tribunes were outbidding 
one another in extravagant proposals, while Caesar's legions, 
sent home from Greece, to rest after their long service, 
were enjoying their victory in the license which is miscalled 
liberty. They demanded the lands, or rewards in money, 
which had been promised them at the end of the war. Dis- 
cipline was relaxed or abandoned. Their officers were 
unable, perhaps unwilling, to control them. They too re- 
garded the Commonwealth as a spoil which their swords 
had won, and which they were entitled to distribute among 

In Spain, too, a bad feeling had revived. After Caesar's 
departure his generals had oppressed the people, and had 
quarrelled with one another. The country was disorgan- 
ized and disaffected. In Spain, as in Egypt, there was a 
national party still dreaming of independence. The 
smouldering traditions of Sertorius were blown into flame 
by the continuance of the civil war. The proud motley 
race of Spaniards, Italians, Gauls, indigenous mountain- 
eers, Moors from Africa, the remnants of the Carthaginian 
colonies, however they might hate one another, yet united 
in resenting an uncertain servitude under the alternate 
ascendency of Roman factions. Spain was ripe for revolt. 
Gaul alone, Caesar's own province, rewarded him for the 
use which he had made of his victory, by unswerving 
loyalty and obedience. 

On his landing in Syria, Caesar found letters pressing for 

his instant return to Rome. Important persons were 

waiting to give him fuller information than could be safely 

committed to writing. He would have hastened home at 

once, but restless spirits had been let loose everywhere by 

370 JULIUS CiESAR [b. c. 47 

the conflict of the Roman leaders. Disorder had broken 
out near at hand. The still recent defeat of Crassus had 
stirred the ambition of the Asiatic princes; and to leave the 
Eastern frontier disturbed was to risk a greater danger to 
the Empire than was to be feared from the impatient poli- 
tics of the Roman mob, or the dying convulsions of the 

Pharnaces, a legitimate son of Mithridates the Great, 
had been left sovereign of Upper Armenia. He had 
watched the collision between Pompey and Caesar with a 
neutrality which was to plead for him with the conqueror, 
and he had intended to make his own advantage out of the 
quarrels between his father's enemies. Deiotarus, tribu- 
tary king of Lower Armenia and Colchis, had given some 
help to Pompey, and had sent him men and money; and 
on Pompey's defeat, Pharnaces had supposed that he might 
seize on Deiotarus's territories without fear of CaesaiV* 
resentment. Deiotarus had applied to Domitius Calvinus 
for assistance; which Calvinus, weakened as he was by the 
despatch of two of his legions to Egypt, had been imper- 
fectly able to give. Pharnaces had advanced into Cappado- 
cia. When Calvinus ordered him to retire, he had replied 
by sending presents, which had hitherto proved so effective 
with Roman proconsuls, and by an equivocating profession 
of readiness to abide by Caesar's decision. Pharnaces 
came of a dangerous race. Caesar's lieutenant was afraid 
that, if he hesitated, the son of Mithridates might become 
as troublesome as his father had been. He refused the 
presents. Disregarding his weakness, he sent a peremp- 
tory command to Pharnaces to fall back within his own 
frontiers, and advanced to compel him if he refused. In 
'times of excitement the minds of men are electric, and 
news travels with telegraphic rapidity if not with tele- 
graphic accuracy. Pharnaces heard that Caesar was shut 
up in Alexandria, and was in a position of extreme danger, 
that he had sent for all his Asiatic legions, and that Cal- 
vinus had himself been summoned to his assistance. Thus 
he thought that he might safely postpone compliance till 

b. c. 47] PHARNACES 37 1 

the Roman army was gone, and he had the country to him- 
self. The reports from Egypt were so unfavourable, that, 
although as yet he had received no positive orders, Cal- 
vinus was in daily expectation that he would be obliged to 
go. It would be unsafe, he thought, to leave an insolent 
barbarian unchastised. He had learnt in Caesar's school 
to strike quickly. He had not learnt the comparison be- 
tween means and ends, without which celerity is impru- 
dence. He had but one legion left; but he had a respectable 
number of Asiatic auxiliaries, and with them he ventured 
to attack Pharnaces in an intricate position. His Asiatics 
deserted. The legion behaved admirably; but in the face 
of overwhelming numbers, it could do no more than cut 
its way to security. Pharnaces at once reclaimed his 
father's kingdom, and overran Pontus, killing, mutilating, 
or imprisoning every Roman that he encountered; and in 
this condition Caesar found Asia Minor on his coming to 

It was not in Caesar's character to leave a Roman prov- 
ince behind him in the hands of an invader, for his own 
political interests. He saw that he must punish Pharnaces 
before he returned to Rome, and he immediately addressed 
himself to the work. He made a hasty progress through 
the Syrian towns, hearing complaints and distributing re- 
wards and promotions. The allied chiefs came to him 
from the borders of the province to pay their respects. 
He received them graciously, and dismissed them pleased 
and satisfied. After a few days spent thus, he sailed for 
Cilicia, held a council at Tarsus, and then crossed the 
Taurus, and went by forced marches through Cappadocia 
to Pontus. He received a legion from Deiotarus which 
had been organized in Roman fashion. He sent to Cal- 
vinus to meet him with the survivors of his lost battle; and 
when they arrived, he reviewed the force which was at his 
disposition. It was not satisfactory. He had brought a 
veteran legion with him from Egypt, but it was reduced to 
a thousand strong. He had another which he had taken 
up in Syria; but even this did not raise his army to a point 

372 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 47 

which could assure him of success. But time pressed, and 
skill might compensate for defective numbers. 

Pharnaces, hearing that Caesar was at hand, promised 
submission. He sent Caesar a golden crown, in anticipa- 
tion perhaps that he was about to make himself king. He 
pleaded his desertion of Pompey as a set-off against his 
faults. Caesar answered that he would accept the submis- 
sion, if it were sincere; but Pharnaces must not suppose 
that good offices to himself could atone for injuries to the 
Empire. 4 The provinces which he had invaded must be 
instantly evacuated; his Roman prisoners must be released, 
and their property must be restored to them. 

Pharnaces was a politician, and knew enough of Caesar's 
circumstances to mislead him. The state of Rome re- 
quired Caesar's presence. A campaign in Asia would 
occupy more time than he could afford, and Pharnaces cal- 
culated that he must be gone in a few days or weeks. The 
victory over Calvinus had strengthened his ambition of 
emulating his father. He delayed his answer, shifted from 
place to place, and tried to protract the correspondence till 
Caesar's impatience to be gone should bring him to agree 
to a compromise. 

Caesar cut short negotiations. Pharnaces was at Zela, 
a town in the midst of mountains behind Trebizond, and 
the scene of a great victory which had been won by Mith- 
ridates over the Romans. Caesar defied auguries. He 
seized a position at night on the brow of a hill directly 
opposite to the Armenian camp, and divided from it by a 
narrow valley. As soon as day broke the legions were 
busy intrenching with their spades and pickaxes. Phar- 
naces, with the rashness which if it fails is madness, and if 
it succeeds is the intuition of genius, decided to fall on them 
at a moment when no sane person could rationally expect 
an attack; and Caesar could not restrain his astonishment 
when he saw the enemy pouring down the steep side of the 
ravine, and breasting the ascent on which he stood. It 
was like the battle of Maubeuge over again, with the dif- 
ference that he had here to deal with Asiatics, and not with 


the Nervii. There was some confusion while the legions 
were exchanging their digging tools for their arms. When 
the exchange had been made, there was no longer a battle, 
but a rout. The Armenians were hurled back down the 
hill, and slaughtered in masses at the bottom of it. The 
camp was taken. Pharnaces escaped for the moment, and 
made his way into his own country; but he was killed im- 
mediately after, and Asia Minor was again at peace. 

Caesar, calm as usual, but well satisfied to have ended a 
second awkward business so easily, passed quickly down to 
the Hellespont, and had landed in Italy before it was 
known that he had left Pontus. 


1 Page 365. Supposed to have been a natural son of Mithridates the 
Great. The reason for the special confidence which Caesar placed in 
him does not appear. The danger of Alexandria, perhaps, did not ap- 
pear at the moment particularly serious. 

9 Page 365. Roman scandal discovered afterwards that Caesar had 
been fascinated by the charms of Cleopatra, and allowed his politics to 
be influenced by a love affair. Roman fashionable society hated Caesar, 
and any carrion was welcome to them which would taint his reputation. 
Cleopatra herself favoured the story, and afterwards produced a child, 
whom she named Caesarion. Oppius, Caesar's most intimate friend, 
proved that the child could not have been his — of course, therefore, 
that the intrigue was a fable ; and the boy was afterwards put to death 
by Augustus as an impostor. No one claims immaculate virtue for 
Caesar. An amour with Cleopatra may have been an accident of his 
presence in Alexandria. But to suppose that such a person as Caesar, 
with the concerns of the world upon his hands, would have allowed his 
public action to be governed by a connection with a loose girl of six- 
teen is to make too large a demand upon human credulity ; nor is it 
likely that, in a situation of so much danger and difficulty as that in 
which he found himself, he would have added to his embarrassments by 
indulging in an intrigue. The report proves nothing, for whether true 
or false it was alike certain to arise. The salons of Rome, like the 
salons of London and Paris, took their revenge on greatness by soiling 
it with filth ; and happily Suetonius, the chief authority for the scandal, 
couples it with a story which is demonstrably false. He says that 
Caesar made a long expedition with Cleopatra in a barge upon the Nile, 
that he was so fascinated with her that he wished to extend his voyage 
to Ethiopia, and was prevented only by the refusal of his army to fol- 
low him. The details of Caesar's stay at Alexandria, so minutely given 
by Hirtius, show that there was not a moment when such an expedi- 

374 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 47 

tion could have been contemplated. During the greater part of the 
time he was blockaded in the palace. Immediately after the insurrec- 
tion was put down, he was obliged to hurry off on matters of instant 
and urgent moment. Of the story of Cleopatra's presence in Rome at 
the time of his murder, more will be said hereafter. 

3 Page 367. Legend is more absurd than usual over this incident. It 
pretends that he swam with one hand, and carried his Commentaries, 
holding them above water, with the other. As if a general would take 
his manuscripts with him into a hot action ! 

4 Page 372. "Neque provinciarum injurias condonari iis posse qui 
fuissent in se ofnciosi." — De Bello Alexandrino, 70. 


CICERO considered that the Civil War ought to 
have ended with Pharsalia; and in this opinion 
most reasonable men among the conservatives 
were agreed. They had fought one battle; and it had gone 
against them. To continue the struggle might tear the 
Empire to pieces, but could not retrieve a lost cause; and 
prudence and patriotism alike recommended submission to 
the verdict of fortune. It is probable that this would have 
been the result, could Caesar have returned to Italy imme- 
diately after his victory. Cicero himself refused to partici- 
pate in further resistance. Cato offered him a command 
at Corcyra, but he declined it with a shudder, and went 
back to Brindisi; and all but those whose consciences for- 
bade them to hope for pardon, or who were too proud to 
ask for it, at first followed his example. Scipio, Cato, La- 
bienus, Afranius, Petreius, were resolute to fight on to the 
last; but even they had no clear outlook, and they 
wandered about the Mediterranean, uncertain what to do, 
or whither to turn. Time went on, however, and Caesar 
did not appear. Rumour said at one time that he was de- 
stroyed at Alexandria. The defeat of Calvinus by Phar- 
naces was an ascertained fact. Spain was in confusion. 
The legions in Italy were disorganized, and society, or the 
wealthy part of society, threatened by the enemies of prop- 
erty, began to call for someone to save it. All was not 
lost. Pompey's best generals were still living. His sons, 
Sextus and Cnaeus, were brave and able. The fleet was de- 
voted to them and to their father's cause, and Caesar's 
officers had failed, in his absence, to raise a naval force 
which could show upon the sea. Africa was a convenient 
rallying point. Since Curio's defeat, King Juba had found 


37 6 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 47 

no one to dispute his supremacy, and between Juba and the 
aristocracy who were bent on persisting in the war an alli- 
ance was easily formed. While Caesar was perilling his 
own interest to remain in Asia to crush Pharnaces, Me- 
tellus Scipio was offering a barbarian chief the whole of 
Roman Africa as the price of his assistance, in a last effort 
to reverse the fortune of Pharsalia. Under these scanda- 
lous conditions. Scipio, Labienus, Cato, Afranius, Petreius, 
Faustus Sylla the son of the Dictator, Lucius Caesar, and 
the rest of the irreconcilables made Africa their new centre 
of operations. Here they gathered to themselves the in- 
heritors of the Syllan traditions, and made raids on the 
Italian coasts and into Sicily and Sardinia. Seizing 
Caesar's officers when they could find them, they put them 
invariably to death without remorse. Cicero protested 
honourably against the employment of treacherous sav- 
ages, even for so sacred a cause as the defence of the con- 
stitution; 1 but Cicero was denounced as a traitor seeking 
favour with the conqueror, and the desperate work went 
on. Caesar's long detention in the East gave the confeder- 
ates time. The young Pompeys were strong at sea. 
From Italy there was an easy passage for adventurous dis- 
affection. The shadow of a Pompeian Senate sat once 
more, passing resolutions, at Utica; while Cato was busy 
organizing an army, and had collected as many as thirteen 
legions out of the miscellaneous elements which drifted in 
to him. Caesar had sent orders to Cassius Longinus to 
pass into Africa from Spain, and break up these combina- 
tions; but Longinus had been at war with his own pro- 
vincials. He had been driven out of the Peninsula, and 
had lost his own life in leaving it. Caesar, like Cicero, had 
believed that the war had ended at Pharsalia. He found 
that the heads of the Hydra had sprouted again, and were 
vomiting the old fire and fury. Little interest could it give 
Caesar to match his waning years against the blinded hatred 
of his countrymen. Ended the strife must be, however, 
before order could be restored in Italy, and wretched men 
take up again the quiet round of industry. Heavy work 


had to be done in Rome. Caesar was consul now — annual 
consul, with no ten years' interval any longer possible. 
Consul, Dictator, whatever name the people gave him, he 
alone held the reins; he alone was able to hold them. 
Credit had to be restored; debtors had to be brought to 
recognise their liabilities. Property had fallen in value 
since the Civil Wars, and securities had to be freshly esti- 
mated. The Senate required reformation; men of fidelity 
and ability were wanted for the public offices. Pompey 
and Pompey's friends would have drowned Italy in blood. 
Caesar disappointed expectation by refusing to punish any 
one of his political opponents. He killed no one. He 
deprived no one of his property. He even protected the 
money-lenders, and made the Jews his constant friends. 
Debts he insisted must be paid, bonds fulfilled, the rights 
of property respected, no matter what wild hopes imagina- 
tion might have indulged in. Something only he remitted 
of the severity of interest, and the poor in the city were 
allowed their lodgings rent free for a year. 

He restored quiet, and gave as much satisfaction as cir- 
cumstances permitted. His real difficulty was with the 
legions, who had come back from Greece. They had de- 
served admirably well, but they were unfortunately over- 
conscious of their merits. Ill-intentioned officers had 
taught them to look for extravagant rewards. Their ex- 
pectations had not been fulfilled; and when they supposed 
that their labours were over they received orders to prepare 
for a campaign in Africa. Sallust the historian was in 
command at their quarters in Campania. They mutinied, 
and almost killed him. He fled to Rome. The soldiers 
of the favoured Tenth Legion pursued him to the gates, 
and demanded speech with Caesar. He bade them come 
to him, and with his usual fearlessness told them to bring 
their swords. 

The army was Caesar's life. In the army lay the future 
of Rome, if Rome was to have a future. There, if any- 
where, the national spirit survived. It was a trying mo- 
ment; but there w r as a calmness in Caesar, arising from a 

3/8 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 47 

profound indifference to what man or fortune could give 
or take from him, which no extremity could shake. 

The legionaries entered the city, and Caesar directed 
them to state their complaints. They spoke of their ser- 
vices and their sufferings. They said that they had been 
promised rewards, but their rewards so far had been words, 
and they asked for their discharge. They did not really 
wish for it. They did not expect it. But they supposed 
that Caesar could not dispense with them, and that they 
might dictate their own terms. 

During the wars in Gaul, Caesar had been most munifi- 
cent to his soldiers. He had doubled their ordinary pay. 
He had shared the spoils of his conquests with them. Time 
and leisure had alone been wanting to him to recompense 
their splendid fidelity in the campaigns in Spain and 
Greece. He had treated them as his children; no com- 
mander had ever been more careful of his soldiers' lives; 
when addressing the army he had called them always 
" comilitones," " comrades," " brother-in-arms." 

The familiar word was now no longer heard from him. 
"You say well, Quirites," 2 he answered; " you have 
laboured hard, and you have suffered much; you desire 
your discharge — you have it. I discharge you who are 
present. I discharge all who have served their time. 
You shall have your recompense. It shall never be said 
of me that I made use of you when I was in danger, and 
was ungrateful to you when the peril was past." 

" Quirites " he had called them; no longer Roman leg- 
ionaries proud of their achievements, and glorying in their 
great commander, but " Quirites " — plain citizens. The 
sight of Caesar, the familiar form and voice, the words, 
every sentence of which they knew that he meant, cut them 
to the heart. They were humbled; they begged to be for- 
given. They said they would go with him to Africa, or to 
the world's end. He did not at once accept their peni- 
tence. He told them that lands had been allotted to every 
soldier out of the ager publicus, or out of his own personal 
estates. Suetonius says that the sections had been care- 

b. c. 47-46] CAMPAIGN IN AFRICA 379 

fully taken so as not to disturb existing occupants; and 
thus it appeared that he had been thinking of them and 
providing for them when they supposed themselves forgot- 
ten. Money, too, he had ready for each, part in hand, 
part in bonds bearing interest to be redeemed when the war 
should be over. Again, passionately, they implored to be 
allowed to continue with him. He relented, but not en- 

" Let all go who wish to go," he said; " I will have none 
serve with me who serve unwillingly." 

" All, all! " they cried; " not one of us will leave you " — 
and not one went. The mutiny was the greatest peril, per- 
haps, to which Caesar had ever been exposed. No more 
was said; but Caesar took silent notice of the officers who 
had encouraged the discontented spirit. In common 
things, Dion Cassius says, he was the kindest and most 
considerate of commanders. He passed lightly over small 
offences; but military rebellion in those who were really 
responsible he never forgave. 

The African business could now be attended to. It was 
again midwinter. Winter campaigns were trying, but 
Caesar had hitherto found them answer to him, the enemy 
had suffered more than himself; while, as long as an op- 
position Senate was sitting across the Mediterranean, in- 
trigue and conspiracy made security impossible at home. 
Many a false spirit now fawning at home on Caesar was 
longing for his destruction. The army with which he 
would have to deal was less respectable than that which 
Pompey had commanded at Durazzo, but it was numeri- 
cally as strong or stronger. Cato, assisted by Labienus, 
had formed into legions sixty thousand Italians. They 
had a hundred and twelve elephants, and African cavalry 
in uncounted multitudes. Caesar perhaps despised an 
enemy too much whom he had so often beaten. He 
sailed from Lilybaeum on the 19th of December, with a 
mere handful of men, leaving the rest of his troops to follow 
as they could. No rendezvous had been positively fixed, 
for between the weather and the enemy it was uncertain 

380 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 46 

where the troops would be able to land, and the gen- 
erals of the different divisions were left to their discretion. 
Caesar on arriving seized and fortified a defensible spot at 
Ruspinum. 3 The other legions dropped in slowly, and 
before a third of them had arrived the enemy were swarm- 
ing about the camp, while the Pompeys were alert on the 
water to seize stray transports or provision ships. There 
was skirmishing every day in front of Caesar's lines. The 
Numidian horse surrounded his thin cohorts like swarms of 
hornets. Labienus himself rode up on one occasion to a 
battalion which was standing still under a shower of ar- 
rows, and asked in mockery who they were. A soldier of 
the Tenth Legion lifted his cap, that his face might be rec- 
ognised, hurled his javelin for answer, and brought La- 
bienus's horse to the ground. But courage was of no 
avail in the face of overwhelming numbers. Scipio's army 
collected faster than Caesar's, and Caesar's young soldiers 
showed some uneasiness in a position so unexpected. 
Caesar, however, was confident and in high spirits. 4 Ro- 
man residents in the African province came gradually in 
to him, and some African tribes, out of respect, it was said, 
for the memory of Marius. A few towns declared against 
the Senate in indignation at Scipio's promise that the 
province was to be abandoned to Juba. Scipio replied 
with burning the Roman country houses and wasting the 
lands, and still killing steadily every friend of Caesar that 
he could lay his hands on. Caesar's steady clemency had 
made no difference. The senatorial faction went on as 
they had begun, till at length their ferocity was repaid 
upon them. 

The reports from the interior became unbearable. 
Caesar sent an impatient message to Sicily that, storm or 
calm, the remaining legions must come to him, or not a 
house would be left standing in the province. The offi- 
cers were no longer what they had been. The men came, 
but bringing only their arms and tools, without change of 
clothes and without tents, though it was the rainy season. 
Good-will and good hearts, however, made up for other 

B. c. 46] BATTLE OF THAPSUS 38 1 

shortcomings. Deserters dropped in thick from the Sen- 
ate's army. King Juba, it appeared, had joined them, and 
Roman pride had been outraged, when Juba had been 
seen taking precedence in the council of war, and Metellus 
Scipio exchanging his imperial purple in the royal presence 
for a plain dress of white. 

The time of clemency was past. Publius Ligarius was 
taken in a skirmish. He had been one of the captives at 
Lerida who had given his word to serve no further in the 
war. He was tried for breaking his engagement, and was 
put to death. Still Scipio's army kept the field in full 
strength, the loss by desertions being made up by fresh 
recruits sent from Utica by Cato. Caesar's men flinched 
from facing the elephants, and time was lost while other 
elephants were fetched from Italy, that they might handle 
them and grow familiar with them. Scipio had been 
taught caution by the fate of Pompey, and avoided a battle, 
and thus three months wore away before a decisive impres- 
sion had been made. But the clear dark eyes of the con- 
queror of Pharsalia had taken the measure of the situation 
and comprehended the features of it. By this time he had 
an effective squadron of ships, which had swept off Pom- 
pey's cruisers; and if Scipio shrank from an engagement it 
was possible to force him into it. A division of Scipio's 
troops were in the peninsula of Thapsus. 5 If Thapsus was 
blockaded at sea and besieged by land, Scipio would be 
driven to come to its relief, and would have to fight in the 
open country. Caesar occupied the neck of the peninsula, 
and the result was what he knew it must be. Scipio and 
Juba came down out of the hills with their united armies. 
Their legions were beginning to form intrenchments, and 
Caesar was leisurely watching their operations, when at the 
sight of the enemy an irresistible enthusiasm ran through 
his lines. The cry rose for instant attack; and Caesar, 
yielding unwillingly to the universal impulse, sprang on 
his horse and led the charge in person. There was no real 
fighting. The elephants which Scipio had placed in front 
wheeled about, and plunged back into the camp trumpet- 

382 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 46 

ing and roaring. The vallum was carried at a rush, and 
afterwards there was less a battle than a massacre. Offi- 
cers and men fled for their lives like frightened antelopes, 
or flung themselves on their knees for mercy. This time 
no mercy was shown. The deliberate cruelty with which 
the war had been carried on had done its work at last. 
The troops were savage, and killed every man that they 
overtook. Caesar tried to check the carnage, but his 
efforts were unavailing. The leaders escaped for the time 
by the speed of their horses. They scattered with a gen- 
eral purpose of making for Spain. Labienus reached it, 
but few besides him. Afranius and Faustus Sylla with a 
party of cavalry galloped to Utica, which they expected 
to hold till one of the Pompeys could bring vessels to take 
them off. The Utican townspeople had from the first 
shown an inclination for Caesar. Neither they nor any 
other Romans in Africa liked the prospect of being passed 
over to the barbarians. 

Cowards smarting under defeat are always cruel. The 
fugitives from Thapsus found that Utica would not be 
available for their purpose, and in revenge they began to 
massacre the citizens. Cato was still in the town. Cato 
was one of those better natured men whom revolution 
yokes so often with base companionship. He was shocked 
at the needless cruelty, and bribed the murderous gang to 
depart. They were taken soon afterwards by Caesar's 
cavalry. Afranius and Sylla were brought into the camp 
as prisoners. There was a discussion in the camp as to 
what was to be done with them. Caesar wished to be 
lenient, but the feeling in the legions was too strong. The 
system of pardons could not be continued in the face of 
hatred so envenomed. The two commanders were exe- 
cuted; Caesar contenting himself with securing Sylla's 
property for his wife, Pompeia, the great Pompey's 
daughter. Cato Caesar was most anxious to save; but 
Cato's enmity was so ungovernable that he grudged 
Caesar the honour of forgiving him. His animosity had 
been originally the natural antipathy which a man of nar- 

B. c. 46] DEATH OF CATO 383 

row understanding instinctively feels for a man of genius. 
It had been converted by perpetual disappointment into a 
monomania, and Caesar had become to him the incarnation 
of every quality and every principle which he abhorred. 
Cato was upright, unselfish, incorruptibly pure in deed 
and word; but he was a fanatic whom no experience could 
teach, and he adhered to his convictions with the more 
tenacity, because fortune or the disposition of events so 
steadily declared them to be mistaken. He would have 
surrendered Caesar to the Germans as a reward for having 
driven them back over the Rhine. He was one of those 
who were most eager to impeach him for the acts of his 
consulship, though the acts themselves were such as, if they 
had been done by another, he would himself have most 
warmly approved; and he was tempted by personal dislike 
to attach himself to men whose object was to reimpose 
upon his country a new tyranny of Sylla. His character 
had given respectability to a cause which if left to its proper 
defenders would have appeared in its natural baseness, 
and thus on him rested the responsibility for the colour 
of justice in which it was disguised. That after all which 
had passed he should be compelled to accept his pardon 
at Caesar's hands was an indignity to which he could not 
submit, and before the conqueror could reach Utica he fell 
upon his sword and died. Ultimus Romanorum has been 
the epitaph which posterity has written on the tomb of 
Cato. Nobler Romans than he lived after him; and a 
genuine son of the old Republic would never have con- 
sented to surrender an Imperial province to a barbarian 
prince. But at least he was an open enemy. He would 
not, like his nephew Brutus, have pretended to be Caesar's 
friend, that he might the more conveniently drive a dagger 
into his side. 

The rest of the party was broken up. Scipio sailed for 
Spain, but was driven back by foul weather into Hippo, 
where he was taken and killed. His correspondence was 
found and taken to Caesar, who burnt it unread, as he had 
burnt Pompey's. The end of Juba and Petreius had a 

384 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 46 

wild splendour about it. They had fled together from 
Thapsus to Zama, Juba's own principal city, and they were 
refused admission. Disdaining to be taken prisoners, as 
they knew they inevitably would be, they went to a coun- 
try house in the neighbourhood belonging to the king. 
There, after a last sumptuous banquet, they agreed to die 
like warriors by each other's hand. Juba killed Petreius, 
and then ran upon his own sword. 

So the actors in the drama were passing away. Do- 
mitius, Pompey, Lentulus, Ligarius, Metellus Scipio, 
Afranius, Cato, Petreius, had sunk into bloody graves. 
Labienus had escaped clear from the battle; and knowing 
that if Caesar himself would pardon him Caesar's army 
never would, he made his way to Spain, where one last, 
desperate hope remained. The mutinous legions of 
Cassius Longinus had declared for the Senate. Some 
remnants of Pompey's troops who had been dismissed after 
Lerida had been collected again and joined them; and 
these, knowing, as Labienus knew, that they had sinned 
beyond forgiveness, were prepared to fight to the last and 
die at bay. 

One memorable scene in the African campaign must not 
be forgotten. While Caesar was in difficulties at Rus- 
pinum, and was impatiently waiting for his legions from 
Sicily, there arrived a general officer of the Tenth, named 
Caius Avienus, who had occupied the whole of one of the 
transports with his personal servants, horses, and other 
conveniences, and had not brought with him a single sol- 
dier. Avienus had been already privately noted by Caesar 
as having been connected with the mutiny in Campania. 
His own habits in the field were simple in the extreme, 
and he hated to see his officers self-indulgent. He used 
the opportunity to make an example of him and of one or 
two others at the same time. 

He called his tribunes and centurions together. " I 
could wish," he said, " that certain persons would have re- 
membered for themselves parts of their past conduct which, 
though I overlooked them, were known to me; I could 

b. c. 46] discipline in Cesar's army 385 

wish they would have atoned for these faults by special at- 
tention to their duties. As they have not chosen to do 
this, I must make an example of them as a warning to 

" You, Caius Avienus, instigated soldiers in the service 
of the State to mutiny against their commanders. You 
oppressed towns which were under your charge. Forget- 
ting your duty to the army and to me, you filled a vessel 
with your own establishment which was intended for the 
transport of troops; and at a difficult moment we were thus 
left, through your means, without the men whom we needed. 
For these causes, and as a mark of disgrace, 1 dismiss you 
from the service, and I order you to leave Africa by the 
first ship which sails. 

"You, Aulus Fonteius [another tribune], have been a 
seditious and a bad officer. I dismiss you also. 

" You, Titus Salienus, Marcus Tiro, Caius Clusinas, 
centurions, obtained your commissions by favour, not by 
merit. You have shown want of courage in the field; your 
conduct otherwise has been uniformly bad; you have en- 
couraged a mutinous spirit in your companies. You are 
unworthy to serve under my command. You are dis- 
missed, and will return to Italy." 

The five offenders were sent under guard on board ship, 
each noticeably being allowed a single slave to wait upon 
him, and so were expelled from the country. 

This remarkable picture of Caesar's method of enforcing 
discipline is described by a person who was evidently pres- 
ent; 6 and it may be taken as a correction to the vague sto- 
ries of his severity to these officers which are told by Dion 


1 Page 376. To Atticus, xi. 7. 

2 Page 378. Citizens. 

3 Page 380. Where the African coast turns south from Cape Bon. 

4 Page 380. ** Animum enim altum et erectum prse se gerebat.— De 
Bello Africano. 

5 Page 381. Between Carthage and Utica. 

6 Page 385. De Bello Africano, c. 54. This remarkably interesting nar- 
rative is attached to Caesar's Commentaries. The author is unknown. 



THE drift of disaffection into Spain was held at first 
to be of little moment. The battle of Thapsus, the 
final breaking up of the senatorial party, and the 
deaths of its leaders were supposed to have brought an 
end at last to the divisions which had so long convulsed the 
Empire. Rome put on its best dress. The people had been 
on Caesar's side from the first. Those who still nursed in 
their hearts the old animosity were afraid to show it, and 
the nation appeared once more united in enthusiasm for 
the conqueror. There were triumphal processions which 
lasted for four days. There were sham fights on artificial 
lakes, bloody gladiator shows, which the Roman populace 
looked for as their special delight. The rejoicings being 
over, business began. Caesar was, of course, supreme. 
He was made Inspector of Public Morals, the censorship 
being deemed inadequate to curb the inordinate extrava- 
gance. He was named Dictator for ten years, with a right 
of nominating the persons whom the people were to choose 
for their consuls and praetors. The clubs and caucuses, 
the bribery of the tribes, the intimidation, the organized 
bands of voters formed out of the clients of the aristocracy, 
were all at an end. The courts of law were purified. No 
more judges were to be bought with money or by fouler 
temptations. The Leges Juliae became a practical reality. 
One remarkable and durable reform was undertaken and 
carried through amidst the jests of Cicero and the other 
wits of the time — the revision of the Roman calendar. 
The distribution of the year had been governed hitherto 
by the motions of the moon. The twelve annual moons 
had fixed at twelve the number of the months, and the 
number of days required to bring the lunar year into cor- 


B. c. 46-45] REFORM OF THE CALENDAR 387 

respondence with the solar had been supplied by irregular 
intercalations, at the direction of the Sacred College. 
But the Sacred College during the last distracted century 
had neglected their office. The lunar year was now sixty- 
five days in advance of the sun. The so-called winter was 
really the autumn, the spring the winter. The summer 
solstice fell at the beginning of the legal September. On 
Caesar as Pontifex Maximus devolved the duty of bring- 
ing confusion into order, and the completeness with which 
the work was accomplished at the first moment of his leis- 
ure shows that he had found time in the midst of his cam- 
paigns to think of other things than war or politics. So- 
sigenes, an Alexandrian astronomer, was called in to super- 
intend the reform. It is not unlikely that he had made ac- 
quaintance with Sosigenes in Egypt, and had discussed the 
problem with him in the hours during which he is supposed 
to have amused himself " in the arms of Cleopatra." So- 
sigenes, leaving the moon altogether, took the sun for the 
basis of the new system. The Alexandrian observers had 
discovered that the annual course of the sun was completed 
in 365 days and six hours. The lunar twelve was allowed 
to remain to fix the number of the months. The number 
of days in each month was adjusted to absorb 365 days. 
The superfluous hours were allowed to accumulate, and 
every fourth year an additional day was to be intercalated. 
An arbitrary step was required to repair the negligence of 
the past. Sixty-five days had still to be made good. The 
new system, depending wholly on the sun, would naturally 
have commenced with the winter solstice. But Caesar so 
far deferred to usage as to choose to begin, not with the 
solstice itself, but with the first new moon which followed. 
It so happened in that year that the new moon was eight 
days after the solstice; and thus the next year started, as it 
continues to start, from the 1st of January. The eight 
days were added to the sixty-five, and the current year was 
lengthened by nearly three months. It pleased Cicero to 
mock, as if Caesar, not contented with the earth, was mak- 
ing himself the master of the heavens. " Lyra," he said, 

388 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 45 

" was to set according to the Edict "; but the unwise man 
was not Caesar in this instance. 1 

While Sosigenes was at work with the calendar, Caesar 
personally again revised the Senate. He expelled every 
member who had been guilty of extortion or corruption: 
he supplied the vacancies with officers of merit, with dis- 
tinguished colonists, with foreigners, with meritorious 
citizens, even including Gauls, from all parts of the Empire. 
Time, unfortunately, had to pass before these men could 
take their places, but meanwhile he treated the existing 
body with all forms of respect, and took no step on any 
question of public moment till the Senate had deliberated 
on it. As a fitting close to the war he proclaimed an am- 
nesty to all who had borne arms against him. The past 
was to be forgotten, and all his efforts were directed to the 
regeneration of Roman society. Cicero paints the habits 
of fashionable life in colours which were possibly exagger- 
ated; but enough remains of authentic fact to justify the 
general truth of the picture. Women had forgotten their 
honour, children their respect for parents. Husbands had 
murdered wives, and wives husbands. Parricide and in- 
cest formed common incidents of domestic Italian history; 
and, as justice had been ordered in the last years of the Re- 
public, the most abandoned villain who came into court 
with a handful of gold was assured of impunity. Rich 
men, says Suetonius, were never deterred from crime by 
fear of forfeiting their estates; they had but to leave Italy, 
and their property was secured to them. It was held an 
extraordinary step towards improvement when Caesar 
abolished the monstrous privilege, and ordered that parri- 
cides should not only be exiled, but should forfeit every- 
thing that belonged to them, and that minor felons should 
forfeit half their estates. 

Cicero had prophesied so positively that Caesar would 
throw off the mask of clemency when the need of it was 
gone, that he was disappointed to find him persevere in 
the same gentleness, and was impatient for revenge to be- 
gin. So bitter Cicero was that he once told Atticus he 


could almost wish himself to be the object of some cruel 
prosecution, that the tyrant might have the disgrace 
of it. 2 

He could not deny that " the tyrant " was doing what, 
if Rome was to continue an ordered commonwealth, it 
was essential must be done. Caesar's acts were unconsti- 
tutional! Yes; but constitutions are made for men, not 
men for constitutions, and Cicero had long seen that the 
constitution was at an end. It had died of its own in- 
iquities. He had perceived in his better moments that 
Caesar, and Caesar only, could preserve such degrees of 
freedom as could be retained without universal destruction. 
But he refused to be comforted. He considered it was a 
disgrace to them all that Caesar was alive. 3 Why did not 
somebody kill him? Kill him? And what then? On that 
side too the outlook was not promising. News had come 
that Labienus and young Cnaeus Pompey had united their 
forces in Spain. The whole Peninsula was in revolt, and 
the counter-revolution was not impossible after all. He 
reflected with terror on the sarcasms which he had flung on 
young Pompey. He knew him to be a fool and a savage. 
" Hang me," he said, " if I do not prefer an old and kind 
master to trying experiments with a new and cruel one. 
The laugh will be on the other side then." 4 

Far had Cicero fallen from his dream of being the great- 
est man in Rome! Condemned to immortality by his 
genius, yet condemned also to survive in the portrait of 
himself which he has so unconsciously and so innocently 

The accounts from Spain were indeed most serious. It 
is the misfortune of men of superior military ability that 
their subordinates are generally failures when trusted with 
independent commands. Accustomed to obey implicitly 
the instructions of their chief, they have done what they 
have been told to do, and their virtue has been in never 
thinking for themselves. They succeed, and they forget 
why they succeed, and in part attribute their fortune to 
their own skill. With Alexander's generals, with Caesar's, 

39° JULIUS (LESAR [b. c. 45 

with Cromwell's, even with some of Napoleon's, the story- 
has been the same. They have been self-confident, yet 
when thrown upon their own resources they have been 
driven back upon a judgment which has been inadequately 
trained. The mind which guided them is absent. The 
instrument is called on to become self-acting and neces- 
sarily acts unwisely. Caesar's lieutenants while under his 
own eye had executed his orders with the precision of a 
machine. When left to their own responsibility they were 
invariably found wanting. Among all his officers there 
was not a man of real eminence. Labienus, the ablest of 
them, had but to desert Caesar, to commit blunder upon 
blunder, and to ruin the cause to which he attached him- 
self. Antony, Lepidus, Trebonius, Calvinus, Cassius Lon- 
ginus, Quintus Cicero, Sabinus, Decimus Brutus, Vatinius, 
were trusted with independent authority, only to show 
themselves unfit to use it. Cicero had guessed shrewdly 
that Caesar's greatest difficulties would begin with his vic- 
tory. He had not a man who was able to govern under 
him away from his immediate eye. 

Cassius Longinus, Trebonius, and Marcus Lepidus had 
been sent to Spain after the battle of Pharsalia. They 
had quarrelled among themselves. They had driven the 
legions into mutiny. The authority of Rome had broken 
down as entirely as when Sertorius was defying the Senate; 
and Spain had become the receptacle of all the active dis- 
affection which remained in the Empire. Thither had 
drifted the wreck of Scipio's African army. Thither had 
gathered the outlaws, pirates, and banditti of Italy and the 
Islands. Thither too had come flights of Numidians and 
Moors in hopes of plunder; and Pompey's sons and La- 
bienus had collected an army as numerous as that which 
had been defeated at Thapsus, and composed of materials 
far more dangerous and desperate. There were thirteen 
legions of them in all, regularly formed, with eagles and 
standards; two which had deserted from Trebonius; one 
made out of Roman Spanish settlers, or old soldiers of 
Pompey's who had been dismissed at Lerida; four out of 


the remnants of the campaign in Africa; the rest a miscel- 
laneous combination of the mutinous legions of Longinus 
and outlawed adventurers who knew that there was no for- 
giveness for them, and were ready to fight while they could 
stand. It was the last cast of the dice for the old party of 
the aristocracy. Appearances were thrown off. There 
were no more Catos, no more phantom Senates to lend to 
rebellion the pretended dignity of a national cause. The 
true barbarian was there in his natural colours. 

Very reluctantly Caesar found that he must himself grap- 
ple with this last convulsion. The sanguinary obstinacy 
which no longer proposed any object to itself save defiance 
and revenge, was converting a war which at first wore an 
aspect of a legitimate constitutional struggle, into a con- 
flict with brigands. Clemency had ceased to be possible, 
and Caesar would have gladly left to others the execution 
in person of the sharp surgery which was now necessary. 
He was growing old: fifty-five this summer. His health 
was giving way. For fourteen years he had known no 
rest. That he could have endured so long such a strain 
on mind and body was due only to his extraordinary ab- 
stinence, to the simplicity of his habits, and the calmness 
of temperament which in the most anxious moments re- 
fused to be agitated. But the work was telling at last on 
his constitution, and he departed on his last campaign with 
confessed unwillingness. The future was clouded with un- 
certainty. A few more years of life might enable him to 
introduce into the shattered frame of the Commonwealth 
some durable elements. His death in the existing con- 
fusion might be as fatal as Alexander's. That some one 
person not liable to removal under the annual wave of elec- 
toral agitation must preside over the army and the ad- 
ministration, had been evident in lucid moments even to 
Cicero. To leave the prize to be contended for among the 
military chiefs was to bequeath a legacy of civil wars and 
probable disruption; to compound with the embittered 
remnants of the aristocracy who were still in the field would 
intensify the danger; yet time and peace alone could give 

392 JULIUS CESAR [ B . c. 45 

opportunity for the conditions of a permanent settlement 
to shape themselves. The name of Caesar had become 
identified with the stability of the Empire. He no doubt 
foresaw that the only possible chief would be found in his 
own family. Being himself childless, he had adopted his 
sister's grandson, Octavius, afterwards Augustus, a father- 
less boy of seventeen; and had trained him under his own 
eye. He had discerned qualities doubtless in his nephew 
which, if his own life was extended for a few years longer, 
might enable the boy to become the representative of his 
house and perhaps the heir of his power. In the unre- 
corded intercourse between the uncle and his niece's child 
lies the explanation of the rapidity with which the untried 
Octavius seized the reins when all was again chaos, and 
directed the Commonwealth upon the lines which it was 
to follow during the remaining centuries of Roman 

Octavius accompanied Caesar into Spain. They trav- 
elled in a carriage, having as a third with them the general 
whom Caesar most trusted and liked, and whom he had 
named in his will as one of Octavius's guardians, Decimus 
Brutus — the same officer who had commanded his fleet 
for him at Quiberon and at Marseilles, and had now been 
selected as the future governor of Cisalpine Gaul. Once 
more it was midwinter when they left Rome. They trav- 
elled swiftly; and Caesar, as usual, himself brought the news 
that he was coming. But the winter season did not bring 
to him its usual advantages, for the whole Peninsula had 
revolted, and Pompey and Labienus were able to shelter 
their troops in the towns, while Caesar was obliged to keep 
the field. Attempts here and there to capture detached 
positions led to no results. On both sides now the war 
was carried on upon the principles which the Senate had 
adopted from the first. Prisoners from the revolted le- 
gions were instantly executed, and Cnaeus Pompey mur- 
dered the provincials whom he suspected of an inclination 
for Caesar. Attagona was at last taken. Caesar moved on 
Cordova; and Pompey, fearing that the important cities 

B. c. 45] BATTLE OF MUNDA 393 

might seek their own security by coming separately to 
terms, found it necessary to risk a battle. 

The scene of the conflict which ended the Civil War 
was the plain of Munda. The day was the 17th of March, 
B. C. 45. Spanish tradition places Munda on the Medi- 
terranean, near Gibraltar. The real Munda was on the 
Guadalquivir, so near to Cordova that the remains of the 
beaten army found shelter within its walls after the battle. 
Caesar had been so invariably victorious in his engage- 
ments in the open field that the result might have been 
thought a foregone conclusion. Legendary history re- 
ported in the next generation that the elements had been 
pregnant with auguries. Images had sweated; the sky 
had blazed with meteors; celestial armies, the spirits of the 
past and future, had battled among the constellations. The 
signs had been unfavourable to the Pompeians; the eagles 
of their legions had dropped the golden thunderbolts from 
their talons, spread their wings, and had flown away to 
Caesar. In reality, the eagles had remained in their places 
till the standards fell from the hands of their dead defend- 
ers; and the battle was one of the most desperate in which 
Caesar had ever been engaged. The numbers were nearly 
equal — the material on both sides equally good. Pom- 
pey's army was composed of revolted Roman soldiers. In 
arms, in discipline, in stubborn fierceness, there was no dif- 
ference. The Pompeians had the advantage of the situa- 
tion, the village of Munda, with the hill on which it stood, 
being in the centre of their lines. The Moorish and Span- 
ish auxiliaries, of whom there were large bodies on either 
side, stood apart when the legions closed; they having no 
further interest in the matter than in siding with the con- 
queror, when fortune had decided who the conqueror was 
to be. There were no manoeuvres; no scientific evolutions. 
The Pompeians knew that there was no hope for them if 
they were defeated. Caesar's men, weary and savage at the 
protraction of the war, were determined to make a last end 
of it; and the two armies fought hand to hand with their 
short swords, with set teeth and pressed lips, opened only 

394 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 45 

with a sharp cry as an enemy fell dead. So equal was the 
struggle, so doubtful at one moment the issue of it, that 
Caesar himself sprang from his horse, seized a standard, 
and rallied a wavering legion. It seemed as if the men 
meant all to stand and kill or be killed as long as daylight 
lasted. The ill fate of Labienus decided the victory. He 
had seen, as he supposed, some movement which alarmed 
him among Caesar's Moorish auxiliaries, and had galloped 
conspicuously across the field to lead a division to check 
them. A shout rose, " He flies — he flies! " A panic ran 
along the Pompeian lines. They gave way, and Caesar's 
legions forced a road between their ranks. One wing 
broke off, and made for Cordova; the rest plunged wildly 
within the ditch and walls of Munda, the avenging sword 
smiting behind into the huddled mass of fugitives. 

Scarcely a prisoner was taken. Thirty thousand fell on 
the field, among them three thousand Roman knights, the 
last remains of the haughty youths who had threatened 
Caesar with their swords in the Senate-house, and had 
hacked Clodius's mob in the Forum. Among them was 
slain Labienus — his desertion of his general, his insults and 
his cruelties to his comrades, expiated at last in his own 
blood. Attius Varus was killed also, who had been with 
Juba when he destroyed Curio. The tragedy was being 
knitted up in the deaths of the last actors in it. The eagles 
of the thirteen legions were all taken. The two Pompeys 
escaped on their horses, Sextus disappearing in the moun- 
tains of Granada or the Sierra Morena; Cnaeus flying for 
Gibraltar, where he hoped to find a friendly squadron. 

Munda was at once blockaded, the inclosing wall — sav- 
age evidence of the temper of the conquerors — being built 
of dead bodies pinned together with lances, and on the 
top of it a fringe of heads on swords' points with the faces 
turned towards the town. A sally was attempted at mid- 
night, and failed. The desperate wretches then fought 
among themselves, till at length the place was surrendered, 
and fourteen thousand of those who still survived were 
taken, and spared. Their comrades, who had made their 

B. c. 45] END OF THE CIVIL WAR 395 

way into Cordova, were less fortunate. When the result 
of the battle was known, the leading citizen, who had 
headed the revolt against Caesar, gathered all that belonged 
to him in a heap, poured turpentine over it, and, after a last 
feast with his family, burnt himself, his house, his children, 
and servants. In the midst of the tumult the walls were 
stormed. Cordova was given up to plunder and massa- 
cre, and twenty-two thousand miserable people — most of 
them, it may be hoped, the fugitives from Munda — were 
killed. The example sufficed. Every town opened its 
gates, and Spain was once more submissive. Sextus Pom- 
pey successfully concealed himself. Cnaeus reached Gib- 
raltar, but to find that most of the ships which he looked 
for had been taken by Caesar's fleet. He tried to cross to 
the African coast, but was driven back by bad weather, 
and search parties were instantly on his track. He had 
been wounded; he had sprained his ankle in his flight. 
Strength and hope were gone. He was carried on a litter 
to a cave on a mountain side, where his pursuers found 
him, cut off his head, and spared Cicero from further 

Thus bloodily ended the Civil War, which the Senate of 
Rome had undertaken against Caesar, to escape the re- 
forms which were threatened by his second consulship. 
They had involuntarily rendered their country the best 
service which they were capable of conferring upon it, for 
the attempts which Caesar would have made to amend a 
system too decayed to benefit by the process had been 
rendered forever impossible by their persistence. The 
free constitution of the Republic had issued at last in elec- 
tions which were a mockery of representation, in courts of 
law which were an insult to justice, and in the conversion 
of the provinces of the Empire into the feeding-grounds 
of a gluttonous aristocracy. In the army alone the Ro- 
man character and the Roman honour survived. In the 
Imperator, therefore, as chief of the army, the care of the 
provinces, the direction of public policy, the sovereign au- 
thority in the last appeal, could alone thenceforward reside. 

396 JULIUS CESAR [ B . c. 45 

The Senate might remain as a Council of State; the magis- 
trates might bear their old names, and administer their old 
functions. But the authority of the executive government 
lay in the royalty, the morality, and the patriotism of the 
legions to whom the power had been transferred. For- 
tunately for Rome, the change came before the decay had 
eaten into the bone, and the genius of the Empire had still 
a refuge from platform oratory and senatorial wrangling 
in the hearts of her soldiers. 

Caesar did not immediately return to Italy. Affairs in 
Rome were no longer pressing, and, after the carelessness 
and blunders of his lieutenants, the administration of the 
Peninsula required his personal inspection. From open 
revolts in any part of the Roman dominions he had noth- 
ing more to fear. The last card had been played, and the 
game of open resistance was lost beyond recovery. There 
might be dangers of another kind: dangers from ambitious 
generals, who might hope to take Caesar's place on his 
death; or dangers from constitutional philosophers, like 
Cicero, who had thought from the first that the Civil War 
had been a mistake, " that Caesar was but mortal, and that 
there were many ways in which a man might die." A re- 
flection so frankly expressed, by so respectable a person, 
must have occurred to many others as well as to Cicero; 
Caesar could not but have foreseen in what resources dis- 
appointed fanaticism or baffled selfishness might seek ref- 
uge. But of such possibilities he was prepared to take his 
chance; he did not fly from them, he did not seek them; he 
took his work as he found it, and remained in Spain 
through the summer, imposing fines and allotting rewards, 
readjusting the taxation, and extending the political privi- 
leges of the Roman colonies. It was not till late in the 
autumn that he again turned his face towards Rome. 


1 Page 388. In connection with this subject it is worth while to men- 
tion another change in the division of time, not introduced by Caesar, 
but which came into general use about a century after. The week of 

B. c. 45] END OF THE CIVIL WAR 397 

seven days was unknown to the Greeks and to the Romans of the Com- 
monwealth, the days of the month being counted by the phases of the 
moon. The seven days' division was supposed by the Romans to be 
Egyptian. We know it to have been Jewish, and it was probably in- 
troduced to the general world on the first spread of Christianity. It 
was universally adopted at any rate after Christianity had been planted 
in different parts of the Empire, but while the Government and the 
mass of the people were still unconverted to the new religion. The 
week was accepted for its convenience; but while accepted it was 
paganized; and the seven days were allotted to the five planets and 
the sun and moon in the order which still survives among the Latin 
nations, and here in England with a further introduction of Scandi- 
navian mythology. The principle of the distribution was what is pop- 
ularly called " the music of the spheres," and turns on a law of Greek 
music which is called by Dion Cassius the ap/xopla 5td Teo-ff&pwp. Assum- 
ing the earth to be the centre of the universe, the celestial bodies 
which have a proper movement of their own among the stars were ar- 
ranged in the order of their apparent periods of revolution — Saturn, 
Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, the Moon. The Jewish Je- 
hovah was identified by the Graeco-Romans with Saturn, the oldest of 
the heathen personal gods. The Sabbath was the day supposed to be 
specially devoted to him. The first day of the week was therefore 
given to Saturn. Passing over Jupiter and Mars, according to the 
laws of the apfxovta, the next day was given to the Sun; again passing 
over two, the next to the Moon, and so en, going round again to the 
rest, till the still existing order came out: Dies Saturni, dies Solis, dies 
Lunas, dies Martis, dies Mercurii, dies Jovis, and dies Veneris. Dion 
Cassius, See Historia Romana, lib. xxxvii. c. 18. Dion Cassius gives a 
second account of the distribution, depending on the twenty-four hours 
of the day. But the twenty-four hours being a division purely artificial 
this explanation is of less interest. 

2 Page 389. To Atticus, x. 12. 

3 Page 389. " Cum vivere ipsum turpe sit nobis." — To Atticus, xiii. 28. 

4 Page 389. " Peream nisi sollicitus sum, ac malo veterem et clemen- 
tem dominum habere, quam novum et crudelem experiri. Scis, Cnaeus 
quam sit fatuus. Scis, quomodo crudelitatem virtutem putet. Scis, 
quam se semper a nobis derisum putet. Vereor, ne nos rustice gladio 
velit &i>Ti(ivKTiipl<rcu." — To Caius Cassius, Ad. Fam., xv. 19. 


CAESAR came back to Rome to resume the sus- 
pended work of practical reform. His first care 
was to remove the fears which the final spasm of 
rebellion had again provoked. He had already granted 
an amnesty. But the Optimates were conscious that they 
had desired and hoped that the Pompeys might be victori- 
ous in Spain. Csesar invited the surviving leaders of the 
party to sue for pardon on not unbecoming conditions. 
Hitherto they had kept no faith with him, and on the first 
show of opportunity had relapsed into defiance. His for- 
bearance had been attributed to want of power rather than 
of will to punish; when they saw him again triumphant, 
they assumed that the representative of the Marian prin- 
ciples would show at last the colours of his uncle, and that 
Rome would again run with blood. He knew them all. 
He knew that they hated him, and would continue to hate 
him; but he supposed that they had recognised the hope- 
lessness and uselessness of further conspiracy. By de- 
stroying him they would fall only under the rod of less 
scrupulous conquerors; and therefore he was content that 
they should ask to be forgiven. To show further that the 
past was really to be forgotten, he drew no distinction be- 
tween his enemies and his friends, and he recommended 
impartially for office those whose rank or services to the 
State entitled them to look for promotion. Thus he par- 
doned and advanced Caius Cassius, who would have killed 
him in Cilicia. 1 But Cassius had saved Syria from being 
overrun by the Parthians after the death of Crassus; and 
the service to the state outweighed the injury to himself. 
So he pardoned and advanced Marcus Brutus, his friend 
Servilia's son, who had fought against him at Pharsalia, and 
had been saved from death there by his special orders. So 


B. c. 45] GENERAL AMNESTY 399 

he pardoned and protected Cicero; so Marcus Marcellus, 
who, as consul, had moved that he should be recalled from 
his government, and had flogged the citizen of Como, in 
scorn of the privileges which Caesar had granted to the 
colony. So he pardoned also Quintus Ligarius, 2 who had 
betrayed his confidence in Africa; so a hundred others, 
who now submitted, accepted his favours, and bound them- 
selves to plot against him no more. To the widows and 
children of those who had fallen in the war he restored the 
estates and honours of their families. Finally, as some 
were still sullen, and refused to sue for a forgiveness which 
might imply an acknowledgment of guilt, he renewed the 
general amnesty of the previous year; and, as a last evi- 
dence that his victory was not the triumph of democracy, 
but the consolidation of a united Empire, he restored the 
statues of Sylla and Pompey, which had been thrown down 
in the revolution, and again dedicated them with a public 

Having thus proved that, so far as he was concerned, he 
nourished no resentment against the persons of the Opti- 
mates, or against their principles, so far as they were con- 
sistent with the future welfare of the Roman State, Caesar 
set himself again to the reorganization of the administra- 
tion. Unfortunately, each step that he took was a fresh 
crime in the eyes of men whose pleasant monopoly of 
power he had overthrown. But this was a necessity of the 
revolution. They nad fought for their supremacy, and 
had lost the day. 

He increased the number of the Senate to nine hundred, 
filling its ranks from eminent provincials; introducing even 
barbarian Gauls, and, still worse, libertini, the sons of liber- 
ated slaves, who had risen to distinction by their own merit. 
The new members came in slowly, and it is needless to say 
were unwillingly received; a private handbill was sent 
round, recommending the coldest of greetings to them. 3 

The inferior magistrates were now responsible to himself 
as Dictator. He added to their numbers also, and, to 
check the mischiefs of the annual elections, he ordered that 

400 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 45 

they should be chosen for three years. He cut short the 
corn grants, which nursed the city mob in idleness; and 
from among the impoverished citizens he furnished out 
masses of colonists to repair the decay of ancient cities. 
Corinth rose from its ashes under Caesar's care. Eighty 
thousand Italians were settled down on the site of Car- 
thage. As inspector of morals, Caesar inherited in an in- 
vigorated form the power of the censors. Senators and 
officials who had discredited themselves by dishonesty were 
ruthlessly degraded. His own private habits and the 
habits of his household were models of frugality. He 
made an effort, in which Augustus afterward imitated him, 
to check the luxury which was eating into the Roman 
character. He forbade the idle young patricians to be 
carried about by slaves in litters. The markets of the 
world had been ransacked to provide dainties for these 
gentlemen. He appointed inspectors to survey the 
dealers' stalls, and occasionally prohibited dishes were 
carried off from the dinner-table under the eyes of the dis- 
appointed guests. 4 Enemies enough Caesar made by these 
measures; but it could not be said of him that he allowed 
indulgences to himself which he interdicted to others. His 
domestic economy was strict and simple, the accounts 
being kept to a sesterce. His frugality was hospitable. 
He had two tables always, one for his civilian friends, an- 
other for his officers, who dined in uniform. The food 
was plain, but the best of its kind; and he was not to be 
played with in such matters. An unlucky baker who sup- 
plied his guests with bread of worse quality than he fur- 
nished for himself was put in chains. Against moral 
offences he was still more severe. He, the supposed 
example of licentiousness with women, executed his 
favourite freedman for adultery with a Roman lady. A 
senator had married a woman two days after her divorce 
from her first husband; Caesar pronounced the marriage 

Law reforms went on. Caesar appointed a commission 
to examine the huge mass of precedents, reduce them to 

b. c. 45-44] HONOURS TO CAESAR 40I 

principles, and form a Digest. He called in Marcus 
Varro's help to form libraries in the great towns. He en- 
couraged physicians and men of science to settle in Rome, 
by offering them the freedom of the city. To maintain 
the free population of Italy, he required the planters and 
farmers to employ a fixed proportion of free labourers on 
their estates. He put an end to the pleasant tours of sena- 
tors at the expense of the provinces; their proper place was 
Italy, and he allowed them to go abroad only when they 
were in office or in the service of the governors. He 
formed large engineering plans, a plan to drain the Pon- 
tine marshes and the Fucine lake, a plan to form a new 
channel for the Tiber, another to improve the roads, an- 
other to cut the Isthmus of Corinth. These were his em- 
ployments during the few months of life which were left 
to him after the close of the war. His health was growing 
visibly weaker, but his superhuman energy remained unim- 
paired. He was even meditating and was making prepara- 
tion for a last campaign. The authority of Rome on the 
Eastern frontier had not recovered from the effects of the 
destruction of the army of Crassus. The Parthians were 
insolent and aggressive. Caesar had determined to go in 
person to bring them to their senses as soon as he could 
leave Rome. Partly, it was said that he felt his life would 
be safer with the troops; partly, he desired to leave the ad- 
ministration free from his overpowering presence, that it 
might learn to go alone; partly and chiefly, he wished to 
spend such time as might remain to him where he could do 
most service to his country. But he was growing weary 
of the thankless burden. He was heard often to say that 
he had lived long enough. Men of high nature do not 
find the task of governing their fellow-creatures particu- 
larly delightful. 

The Senate meanwhile was occupied in showing the sin- 
cerity of their conversion by inventing honours for their 
new master, and smothering him with distinction since 
they had failed to defeat him in the field. Few recruits had 

yet joined them, and they were still substantially the old 

402 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 45-44 

body. They voted Caesar the name of Liberator. They 
struck medals for him, in which he was described as Pater 
Patriae, an epithet which Cicero had once with quickened 
pulse heard given to himself by Pompey. " Imperator " 
had been a title conferred hitherto by soldiers in the field 
on a successful general. It was now granted to Caesar in 
a special sense, and was made hereditary in his family, with 
the command-in-chief of the army for his life. The Sen- 
ate gave him also the charge of the treasury. They made 
him consul for ten years. Statues were to be erected to 
him in the temples, on the Rostra, and in the Capitol, where 
he was to stand as an eighth among the seven Kings of 
Rome. In the excess of their adoration, they desired 
even to place his image in the Temple of Quirinus himself, 
with an inscription to him asOeo? avinrjro^ , the invincible 
God. Golden chairs, gilt chariots, triumphal robes were 
piled one upon another with laurelled fasces and laurelled 
wreaths. His birthday was made a perpetual holiday, 
and the month Quinctilis 5 was renamed, in honour 
of him, July. A temple to Concord was to be 
erected in commemoration of his clemency. His per- 
son was declared sacred, and to injure him by word 
or deed was to be counted sacrilege. The Fortune 
of Caesar was introduced into the constitutional oath, 
and the Senate took a solemn pledge to maintain his 
acts inviolate. Finally, they arrived at a conclusion that 
he was not a man at all; no longer Caius Julius, but Divus 
Julius, a God or the Son of Ged. A temple was to be 
built to Caesar as another Quirinus, and Antony was to be 
his priest. 

Caesar knew the meaning of all this. He must accept 
their flattery and become ridiculous, or he must appear to 
treat with contumely the Senate which offered it. The sin- 
ister purpose started occasionally into sight. One obse- 
quious senator proposed that every woman in Rome should 
be at his disposition, and filthy libels against him were 
set floating under the surface. The object, he perfectly 
understood, " was to draw him into a position more and 

B. c. 45-44] CAESAR AND THE SENATE 403 

more invidious, that he might the sooner perish." 6 The 
praise and the slander of such men were alike indifferent 
to him. So far as he was concerned, they might call him 
what they pleased; God in public, and devil in their epi- 
grams, if it so seemed good to them. It was difficult for 
him to know precisely how to act, but he declined his di- 
vine honours; and he declined the ten years' consulship. 
Though he was sole consul for the year, he took a col- 
league, and when his colleague died on the last day of 
office, he named another, that the customary forms might 
be observed. Let him do what he would, malice still mis- 
construed him. Cicero, the most prominent now of his 
senatorial flatterers, was the sharpest with his satire behind 
the scenes. " Caesar," he said, " had given them so active 
a consul, that there was no sleeping under him." 7 

Caesar was more and more weary of it. He knew that 
the Senate hated him; he knew that they would kill him, if 
they could. All these men whose lips were running over 
with adulation, were longing to drive their daggers into 
him. He was willing to live, if they would let him live; 
but, for himself, he had ceased to care about it. He dis- 
dained to take precautions against assassination. On his 
first return from Spain, he had been attended by a guard; 
but he dismissed it in spite of the remonstrances of his 
friends, and went daily into the Senate-house alone and un- 
armed. He spoke often of his danger with entire open- 
ness; but he seemed to think that he had some security in 
the certainty that if he was murdered the Civil War would 
break out again, as if personal hatred was ever checked by 
fear of consequences. It was something to feel that he had 
not lived in vain. The Gauls were settling into peaceful 
habits. The soil of Gaul was now as well cultivated as 
Italy. Barges loaded with merchandise were passing 
freely along the Rhone and the Saone, the Loire, the Mo- 
selle, and the Rhine. 8 The best of the chiefs were made 
senators of Rome, and the people were happy and con- 
tented. What he had done for Gaul, he might, if he lived, 
do for Spain, and Africa, and the East. But it was the 

404 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 45-44 

concern of others more than of himself. " Better," he said, 
44 to die at once than live in perpetual dread of treason." 

But Caesar was aware that conspiracies were being 
formed against him; and that he spoke freely of his danger, 
appears from a speech delivered in the middle of the winter 
by Cicero in Caesar's presence. It has been seen that 
Cicero had lately spoken of Caesar's continuance in life as 
a disgrace to the State. It has been seen, also, that he had 
long thought of assassination as the readiest means of end- 
ing it. He asserted afterward that he had not been con- 
sulted when the murder was actually accomplished; but the 
perpetrators were assured of his approbation, and when 
Caesar was killed he deliberately claimed for himself a share 
of the guilt, if guilt there could be in what he regarded as 
the most glorious achievement in human history. 9 It may 
be assumed, therefore, that Cicero's views upon the sub- 
ject had remained unchanged since the beginning of the 
Civil War, and that his sentiments were no secret among 
his friends. 

Cicero is the second great figure in the history of the 
time. He has obtained the immortality which he so much 
desired, and we are, therefore, entitled and obliged to 
scrutinize his conduct with a niceness which would be un- 
gracious and unnecessary in the case of a less distinguished 
man. After Pharsalia he had concluded that the continu- 
ance of the war would be unjustifiable. He had put him- 
self in communication with Antony and Caesar's friend 
and secretary Oppius, and at their advice he went from 
Greece to Brindisi, to remain there till Caesar's pleasure 
should be known. He was very miserable. He had joined 
Pompey with confessed reluctance, and family quarrels had 
followed on Pompey's defeat. His brother Quintus, whom 
he had drawn away from Caesar, regretted having taken 
his advice. His sons and nephews were equally querulous 
and dissatisfied; and for himself, he dared not appear in 
the streets of Brindisi, lest Caesar's soldiers should insult 
or injure him. Antony, however, encouraged him to 
hope. He assured him that Caesar was well disposed to 


him, and would not only pardon him, but would show him 
every possible favour, 10 and with these expectations he con- 
trived for a while to comfort himself. He had regarded 
the struggle as over, and Caesar's side as completely vic- 
torious. But gradually the scene seemed to change. 
Caesar was long in returning. The Optimates rallied in 
Africa, and there was again a chance that they might win 
after all. His first thought was always for himself. If the 
constitution survived under Caesar, as he was inclined to 
think that in some shape it would, he had expected that a 
place would be found in it for him. 11 But how if Caesar 
himself should not survive? How if he should be killed in 
Alexandria? How if he should be defeated by Metellus 
Scipio? He described himself as excruciated with anxi- 
ety. 12 Through the year which followed he wavered from 
day to day as the prospect varied, now cursing his folly for 
having followed the Senate to Greece, now for having de- 
serted them, blaming himself at one time for his indeci- 
sion, at another for having committed himself to either 
side. 13 

Gradually his alarms subsided. The Senate's party was 
finally overthrown. Caesar wrote to him affectionately, 
and allowed him to retain his title as Imperator. When 
it appeared that he had nothing personally to fear, he re- 
covered his spirits, and he recovered along with them a 
hope that the constitution might be restored, after all, by 
other means than war. " Caesar could not live forever, and 
there were many ways in which a man might die." 

Caesar had dined with him in the country, on his way 
home from Spain. He had been as kind as Cicero could 
wish, but had avoided politics. When Caesar went to 
Rome, Cicero followed him, resumed his place in the Sen- 
ate, which was then in the full fervour of its affected adula- 
tion, and took an early opportunity of speaking. Marcus 
Marcellus had been in exile since Pharsalia. The Senate 
had interceded for his pardon, and Caesar had granted it, 
and granted it with a completeness which exceeded ex- 
pectation. Cicero rose to thank him in his presence, in 

406 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c. 44 

terms which most certainly did not express his real feelings, 
whatever may have been the purpose which they concealed. 

" He had long been silent," he said, " not from fear, but 
from grief and diffidence. The time for silence was past. 
Thenceforward he intended to speak his thoughts freely in 
his ancient manner. Such kindness, such unheard of 
generosity, such moderation in power, such incredible and 
almost godlike wisdom, he felt himself unable to pass over 
without giving expression to his emotions." 14 No flow of 
genius, no faculty of speech or writing, could adequately 
describe Caesar's actions, yet on that day he had yet 
achieved a greater glory. Often had Cicero thought, and 
often had said to others, that no king or general had ever 
performed such exploits as Caesar. In war, however, 
officers, soldiers, allies, circumstances, fortune, claimed a 
share in the result; and there were victories greater than 
could be won on the battlefield, where the honour was 

" To have conquered yourself," he said, addressing Cae- 
sar directly, " to have restrained your resentment, not only 
to have restored a distinguished opponent to his civil rights, 
but to have given him more than he had lost, is a deed 
which raises you above humanity, and makes you most 
like to God. Your wars will be spoken of to the end of 
time in all lands and tongues, but in tales of battle we are 
defeated by the shoutings and the blare of trumpets. Jus- 
tice, mercy, moderation, wisdom, we admire even in fiction, 
or in persons whom we have never seen; how much more 
must we admire them in you, who are present here before 
us, and in whose face we read a purpose to restore us to 
such remnants of our liberty as have survived the war! 
How can we praise, how can we love you sufficiently? By 
the gods, the very walls of this house are eloquent with 
gratitude. . . No conqueror in a civil war was ever so mild 
as you have been. To-day you have surpassed yourself. 
You have overcome victory in giving back the spoils to 
the conquered. By the laws of war we were under your 

B. c. 44] SPEECH OF CICERO 407 

feet, to be destroyed if you so willed. We live by your 
goodness. . . Observe, conscript fathers, how compre- 
hensive is Caesar's sentence. We were in arms against 
him, how impelled I know not. He cannot acquit us of 
mistake, but he holds us innocent of crime, for he has given 
us back Marcellus, at your entreaty. Me, of his own free 
will, he has restored to myself and to my country. He 
has brought back the most illustrious survivors of the war. 
You see them gathered here in this full assembly. He has 
not regarded them as enemies. He has concluded that 
you entered into the conflict with him rather in ignorance 
and unfounded fear than from any motives of ambition or 

" For me, I was always for peace. Caesar was for peace, 
so was Marcellus. There were violent men among you, 
whose success Marcellus dreaded. Each party had a cause. 
I will not compare them. I will compare rather the vic- 
tory of the one with the possible victory of the other. 
Caesar's wars ended with the last battle. The sword is 
now sheathed. Those whom we have lost fell in the fury 
of the fight, not one by the resentment of the conqueror. 
Caesar, if he could, would bring back to life many who lie 
dead. For the others, we all feared what they might do 
if the day had been theirs. They not only threatened 
those that were in arms against them, but those who sat 
quietly at home." 

Cicero then said that he had heard a fear of assassina- 
tion expressed by Caesar. By whom, he asked, could such 
an attempt be made? Not by those whom he had for- 
given, for none were more attached to him. Not by his 
comrades, for they could not be so mad as to conspire 
against the general to whom they owed all that they pos- 
sessed. Not by his enemies, for he had no enemies. 
Those who had been his enemies were either dead through 
their own obstinacy, or were alive through his generosity. 
It was possible, however, he admitted, that there might be 
some such danger. 

408 JULIUS CAESAR [ B . c. 44 

" Be you, therefore," he said, again speaking to Caesar, 
" be you watchful, and let us be diligent. Who is so care- 
less of his own and the common welfare as to be ignorant 
that on your preservation his own depends, and that all our 
lives are bound up in yours? I, as in duty bound, think of 
you by night and day; I ponder over the accidents of hu- 
manity, the uncertainty of health, the fraility of our com- 
mon nature, and I grieve to think that the Commonwealth 
which ought to be immortal should hang on the breath of 
a single man. If to these perils be added a nefarious con- 
spiracy, to what god can we turn for help? War has laid 
prostrate our institutions, you alone can restore them. 
The courts of justice need to be reconstituted, credit to be 
recovered, license to be repressed, the thinned ranks of the 
citizens to be repaired. The bonds of society are relaxed. 
In such a war, and with such a temper in men's hearts, the 
State must have lost many of its greatest ornaments, be 
the event what it would. These wounds need healing, and 
you alone can heal them. With sorrow I have heard you 
say that you have lived long enough. For nature it may 
be that you have, and perhaps for glory. But for your 
country you have not. Put away, I beseech you, this con- 
tempt of death. Be not wise at our expense. You repeat 
often, I am told, that you do not wish for lcnger life. I 
believe you mean it; nor should I blame you, if you had 
only to think of yourself. But by your actions you have 
involved the welfare of each citizen and of the whole Com- 
monwealth in your own. Your work is unfinished: the 
foundations are hardly laid, and is it for you to be measur- 
ing calmly your term of days by your desires? ... If, 
Caesar, the result of your immortal deeds is to be no more 
than this, that, after defeating your enemies, you are to 
leave the State in the condition in which it now stands, 
your splendid qualities will be more admired than hon- 
oured. It remains for you to rebuild the constitution. 
Live till this is done. Live till you see your country tran- 
quil, and at peace. Then, when your last debt is paid, 
when you have filled the measure of your existence to over- 

b. c. 44] SPEECH OF CICERO 409 

flowing, then say, if you will, that you have had enough of 
life. Your life is not the life which is bounded by the 
union of your soul and body; your life is that which shall 
continue fresh in the memory of ages to come, which pos- 
terity will cherish, and eternity itself keep guard over. 
Much has been done which men will admire: much remains 
to be done, which they can praise. They will read with 
wonder of the empires and provinces, of the Rhine, the 
ocean, and the Nile, of battles without number, of amaz- 
ing victories, of countless monuments and triumphs; but 
unless this Commonwealth be wisely re-established in in- 
stitutions by you bestowed upon us, your name will travel 
widely over the world, but will have no stable habitation; 
and those who come after us will dispute about you as we 
have disputed. Some will extol you to the skies, others 
will find something wanting, and the most important ele- 
ment of all. Remember the tribunal before which you 
will hereafter stand. The ages that are to be will try you, 
with minds, it may be, less prejudiced than ours, uninflu- 
enced either by desire to please you or by envy of your 

" Our dissensions have been crushed by the arms, and 
extinguished by the lenity, of the conqueror. Let all of 
us, not the wise only, but every citizen who has ordinary 
sense, be guided by a single desire. Salvation there can 
be none for us, Caesar, unless you are preserved. There- 
fore, we exhort you, we beseech you to watch over your 
own safety. You believe that you are threatened by a 
secret peril. From my own heart I say, and I speak for 
others as well as for myself, we will stand as sentries over 
your safety, and we will interpose our own bodies between 
you and any danger which may menace you. 

" 15 

Such, in compressed form, for necessary brevity, but de- 
serving to be studied in its own brilliant language, was the 
speech delivered in the Senate in Caesar's presence, within 
a few weeks of his murder. The authenticity of it has been 
questioned, but without result beyond creating a doubt 

410 JULIUS CAESAR [ b. c. 44 

whether it was edited and corrected, according to his usual 
habit, by Cicero himself. The external evidence of genu- 
ineness is as good as for any of his other orations, and the 
Senate possessed no other speaker known to us, to whom, 
with any probability, so splendid an illustration of Roman 
eloquence could be assigned. 

Now, therefore, let us turn to the Second Philippic de- 
livered in the following summer when the deed had been 
accomplished, which Cicero professed to hold in so much 
abhorrence. Then, fiercely challenging for himself a share 
in the glory of tyrannicide, he exclaimed: 

" What difference is there between advice beforehand 
and approbation afterwards? What does it matter 
whether I wished it to be done, or rejoiced that it was 
done? Is there a man, save Antony and those who were 
glad to have Caesar reign over us, that did not wish him to 
be killed, or that disapproved when he was killed? All 
were in fault, for all the Boni joined in killing him, so far 
as lay in them. Some were not consulted, some wanted 
courage, some opportunity. All were willing." 16 

Expressions so vehemently opposite compel us to com- 
pare them. Was it that Cicero was so carried away by the 
stream of his oratory, that he spoke like an actor, under 
artificial emotion which the occasion called for? Was it 
that he was deliberately trying to persuade Caesar that from 
the Senate he had nothing to fear, and so to put him off his 
guard? If, as he declared, he himself and the Boni, who 
were listening to him, desired so unanimously to see Caesar 
killed, how else can his language be interpreted? Cicero 
stands before the tribunal of posterity, to which he was so 
fond of appealing. In him, too, while " there is much to 
admire," " something may be found wanting." 

Meanwhile the Senate went its way, still inventing fresh 
titles and conferring fresh powers. Caesar said that these 
vain distinctions needed limitation, rather than increase; 
but the flattery had a purpose in it, and would not be 


One day a deputation waited on him with the proffer of 
some " new marvel." 17 He was sitting in front of the 
Temple of Venus Genetrix, and when the senators ap- 
proached he neglected to rise to receive them. Some said 
that he was moving, but that Cornelius Balbus pulled him 
down. Others said that he was unwell. Pontius Aquila, 
a tribune, had shortly before refused to rise to Caesar. The 
senators thought he meant to read them a lesson in re- 
turn. He intended to be king, it seemed; the constitu- 
tion was gone, another Tarquin was about to seize the 
throne of Republican Rome. 

Caesar was king in fact, and to recognise facts is more 
salutary than to ignore them. An acknowledgment of 
Caesar as king might have made the problem of reorganiza- 
tion easier than it proved. The army had thought of it. 
He was on the point of starting for Parthia, and a prophecy 
had said that the Parthians could only be conquered by a 
king. But the Roman people were sensitive about names. 
Though their liberties were restricted for the present, they 
liked to hope that one day the Forum might recover its 
greatness. The Senate, meditating on the insult which 
they had received, concluded that Caesar might be tempted, 
and that if they could bring him to consent he would lose 
the people's hearts. They had already made him Dicta- 
tor for life; they voted next that he really should be King, 
and, not formally perhaps, but tentatively, they offered him 
the crown. He was sounded as to whether he would ac- 
cept it. He understood the snare, and refused. What 
was to be done next? He would soon be gone to the 
East. Rome and its hollow adulations would lie behind 
him, and their one opportunity would be gone also. They 
employed someone to place a diadem on the head of his 
statue which stood upon the Rostra. 18 It was done pub- 
licly, in the midst of a vast crowd, in Caesar's presence. 
Two eager tribunes tore the diadem down, and ordered the 
offender into custody. The treachery of the Senate was 
not the only danger. His friends in the army had the same 
ambition for him. A few days later as he was riding 

412 JULIUS CiESAR [B.C. 44 

through the streets, he was saluted as King by the mob. 
Caesar answered calmly that he was not King, but Caesar, 
and there the matter might have ended; but the tribunes 
rushed into the crowd to arrest the leaders; a riot followed, 
for which Caesar blamed them; they complained noisily; he 
brought their conduct before the Senate, and they were 
censured and suspended; but suspicion was doing its work, 
and honest republican hearts began to heat and kindle. 

The kingship assumed a more serious form on the 15th 
of February at the Lupercalia — the ancient carnival. 
Caesar was in his chair, in his consular purple, wearing 
a wreath of bay, wrought in gold. The honour of the 
wreath was the only distinction which he had accepted 
from the Senate with pleasure. He retained a remnant of 
youthful vanity, and the twisted leaves concealed his bald- 
ness. Antony, his colleague in the consulship, approached 
with a tiara, and placed it on Caesar's head, saying, " The 
people give you this by my hand." That Antony had no 
sinister purpose is obvious. He perhaps spoke for the 
army; 19 or it may be that Caesar himself suggested An- 
tony's action, that he might end the agitation of so 
dangerous a subject. He answered in a loud voice " that 
the Romans had no king but God," and ordered that 
the tiara should be taken to the Capitol, and placed 
on the statue of Jupiter Olympius. The crowd burst into 
an enthusiastic cheer; and an inscription on a brass tablet 
recorded that the Roman people had offered Caesar the 
crown by the hands of the consul and that Caesar had re- 
fused it. 

The question of the kingship was over; but a vague 
alarm had been created, which answered the purpose of 
the Optimates. Caesar was at their mercy any day. They 
had sworn to maintain all his acts. They had sworn, after 
Cicero's speech, individually and collectively to defend his 
life. Caesar, whether he believed them sincere or not, had 
taken them at their word, and came daily to the Senate 
unarmed and without a guard. He had a protection in 
the people. If the Optimates killed him without prepara- 

B. c. 44] THE CONSPIRACY. 413 

tion, they knew that they would be immediately massa- 
cred. But an atmosphere of suspicion and uncertainty 
had been successfully generated, of which they determined 
to take immediate advantage. There were no troops in 
the city. Lepidus, Caesar's master of the horse, who had 
been appointed governor of Gaul, was outside the gates, 
with a few cohorts; but Lepidus was a person of feeble 
character, and they trusted to be able to deal with him. 

Sixty senators, in all, were parties to the immediate con- 
spiracy. Of these nine-tenths were members of the old 
faction whom Caesar had pardoned, and who, of all his 
acts, resented most that he had been able to pardon them. 
They were the men who had stayed at home, like Cicero, 
from the fields of Thapsus and Munda, and had pretended 
penitence and submission that they might take an easier 
road to rid themselves of their enemy. Their motives 
were the ambition of their order and personal hatred of 
Caesar; but they persuaded themselves that they were ani- 
mated by patriotism, and as, in their hands, the Republic 
had been a mockery of liberty, so they aimed at restoring 
it by a mock tyrannicide. Their oaths and their profes- 
sions were nothing to them. If they were entitled to kill 
Caesar, they were entitled equally to deceive him. No, 
stronger evidence is needed of the demoralization of the 
Roman Senate than the completeness with which they 
were able to disguise from themselves the baseness of their 
treachery. One man only they were able to attract into 
co-operation who had a reputation for honesty, and could 
be conceived, without absurdity, to be animated by a dis- 
interested purpose. 

Marcus Brutus was the son of Cato's sister Servilia, the 
friend, and a scandal said the mistress, of Caesar. That he 
was Caesar's son was not too absurd for the credulity of 
Roman drawing rooms. Brutus himself could not have 
believed in the existence of such a relation, for he was 
deeply attached to his mother; and although, under 
the influence of his uncle Cato, he had taken the 
Senate's side in the war, he had accepted afterwards 

414 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 44 

not pardon only from Caesar, but favours of many 
kinds, for which he had professed, and probably 
felt, some real gratitude. He had married Cato's 
daughter, Portia, and on Cato's death had published a 
eulogy upon him. Caesar left him free to think and write 
what he pleased. He had made him praetor; he had nomi- 
nated him to the governorship of Macedonia. Brutus 
was perhaps the only member of the senatorial party in 
whom Caesar felt genuine confidence. His known integ- 
rity, and Caesar's acknowledged regard for him, made his 
accession to the conspiracy an object of particular impor- 
tance. The name of Brutus would be a guaranty to the 
people of rectitude of intention. Brutus, as the world 
went, was of more than average honesty. He had sworn 
to be faithful to Caesar as the rest had sworn, and an oath 
with him was not a thing to be emotionalized away; but 
he was a fanatical republican, a man of gloomy habits, 
given to dreams and omens, and easily liable to be influ- 
enced by appeals to visionary feelings. Caius Cassius, his 
brother-in-law, was employed to work upon him. Cas- 
sius, too, was praetor that year, having been also nominated 
to office by Caesar. He knew Brutus, he knew where and 
how to move him. He reminded him of the great tra- 
ditions of his name. A Brutus had delivered Rome from 
the Tarquins. The blood of a Brutus was consecrated to 
liberty. This, too, was mockery: Brutus, who expelled the 
Tarquins, put his sons to death, and died childless; Mar- 
cus Brutus came of good plebeian family, with no glories 
of tyrannicide about them; but an imaginary genealogy 
suited well with the spurious heroics which veiled the mo- 
tives of Caesar's murderers. 

Brutus, once wrought upon, became with Cassius the 
most ardent in the cause which assumed the aspect to him 
of a sacred duty. Behind them were the crowd of sena- 
tors of the familiar faction, and others worse than they, 
who had not even the excuse of having been partisans of 
the beaten cause; men who had fought at Caesar's side till 
the war was over, and believed, like Labienus, that to them 

B. c. 44] THE CONSPIRACY 415 

Caesar owed his fortune, and that he alone ought not to 
reap the harvest. One of these was Trebonius, who had 
misconducted himself in Spain, and was smarting under 
the recollection of his own failures. Trebonius had long 
before sounded Antony on the desirableness of removing 
their chief. Antony, though he remained himself true, had 
unfortunately kept his friend's counsel. Trebonius had 
been named by Caesar for a future consulship, but a distant 
reward was too little for him. Another and a yet baser 
traitor was Decimus Brutus, whom Caesar valued and 
trusted beyond all his officers, whom he had selected as 
guardian for Augustus, and had noticed, as was seen after- 
wards, with special affection in his will. The services of 
these men were invaluable to the conspirators on account 
of their influence with the army. Decimus Brutus, like 
Labienus, had enriched himself in Caesar's campaigns, and 
had amassed near half a million of English money. 20 It 
may have been easy to persuade him and Trebonius that a 
grateful Republic would consider no recompense too large 
to men who would sacrifice their commander to their coun- 
try. To Caesar they could be no more than satellites; the 
first prizes of the Empire would be offered to the choice 
of the saviours of the constitution. 

So composed was this memorable band, to whom was to 
fall the bad distinction of completing the ruin of the sena- 
torial rule. Caesar would have spared something of it; 
enough, perhaps, to have thrown up shoots again as soon 
as he had himself passed away in the common course of 
nature. By combining in a focus the most hateful char- 
acteristics of the order, by revolting the moral instincts of 
mankind by ingratitude and treachery, they stripped their 
cause by their own hands of the false glamour which they 
hoped to throw over it. The profligacy and avarice, the 
cynical disregard of obligation, which had marked the 
Senate's supremacy for a century, had exhibited abund- 
antly their unfitness for the high functions which had de- 
scended to them; but custom and natural tenderness for a 
form of government, the past history of which had been so 

416 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 44 

glorious, might have continued still to shield them from 
the penalty of their iniquities. The murder of Caesar filled 
the measure of their crimes, and gave the last and neces- 
sary impulse to the closing act of the revolution. 

Thus the Ides of March drew near. Caesar was to set 
out in a few days for Parthia. Decimus Brutus was going, 
as governor, to the north of Italy, Lepidus to Gaul, Mar- 
cus Brutus to Macedonia, and Trebonius to Asia Minor. 
Antony, Caesar's colleague in the consulship, was to remain 
in Italy. Dolabeila, Cicero's son-in-law, was to be consul 
with him as soon as Caesar should have left for the East. 
The foreign appointments were all made for five years, 
and in another week the party would be scattered. The 
time for action had come, if action there was to be. 
Papers were dropped in Brutus's room, bidding him awake 
from his sleep. On the statue of Junius Brutus some hot 
republican wrote " Would that thou wast alive!" The 
assassination in itself was easy, for Caesar would take no 
precautions. So portentous an intention could not be kept 
entirely secret; many friends warned him to beware; but 
he disdained too heartily the worst that his enemies could 
do to him to vex himself with thinking of them, and he 
forbade the subject to be mentioned any more in his pres- 
ence. Portents, prophecies, soothsayings, frightful aspects 
in the sacrifices, natural growths of alarm and excitement, 
were equally vain. " Am I to be frightened," he said, in 
answer to some report of the haruspices, " because a sheep 
is without a heart? " 

An important meeting of the Senate had been called for 
the Ides (the 15th) of the month. The Pontifices, it was 
whispered, intended to bring on again the question of the 
kingship before Caesar's departure. The occasion would 
be appropriate. The Senate-house itself was a convenient 
scene of operations. The conspirators met at supper the 
evening before at Cassius's house. Cicero, to his regret, 
was not invited. The plan was simple, and was rapidly 
arranged. Caesar would attend unarmed. The senators 
not in the secret would be unarmed also. The party who 


intended to act were to provide themselves with poniards, 
which could be easily concealed in their paper boxes. So 
far all was simple; but a question rose whether Caesar only 
was to be killed, or whether Antony and Lepidus were to 
be despatched along with him. They decided that Caesar's 
death would be sufficient. To spill blood without neces- 
sity would mar, it was thought, the sublimity of their ex- 
ploit. Some of them liked Antony. None supposed that 
either he or Lepidus would be dangerous when Caesar was 
gone. In this resolution Cicero thought that they made 
a fatal mistake; 21 fine emotions were good in their place, 
in the perorations of speeches and such like; Antony, as 
Cicero admitted, had been signally kind to him; but the 
killing Caesar was a serious business, and his friends should 
have died along with him. It was determined other- 
wise. Antony and Lepidus were not to be touched. For 
the rest, the assassins had merely to be in their places in 
the Senate in good time. When Caesar entered, Trebonius 
was to detain Antony in conversation at the door. The 
others were to gather about Caesar's chair on pretence of 
presenting a petition, and so could make an end. A gang 
of gladiators were to be secreted in the adjoining theatre 
to be ready should any unforeseen difficulty present itself. 
The same evening, the 14th of March, Caesar was at a 
" Last Supper " at the house of Lepidus. The conversa- 
tion turned on death, and on the kind of death which was 
most to be desired. Caesar, who was signing papers while 
the rest were talking, looked up and said, " A sudden one." 
When great men die, imagination insistc that all nature 
shall have felt the shock. Strange stories were told in after 
years of the uneasy labours of the elements that night. 

" A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, 
The graves did open, and the sheeted dead 
Did squeak and jibber in the Roman streets." 

The armour of Mars, which stood in the hall of the Pontifi- 
cal Palace, crashed down upon the pavement. The door 
of Caesar's room flew open. Calpurnia dreamt her hus- 

418 JULIUS C^SAR [b.c. 44 

band was murdered, and that she saw him ascending into 
heaven, and received by the hand of God. 22 In the morn- 
ing the sacrifices were again unfavourable. Caesar was 
restless. Some natural disorder affected his spirits, and 
his spirits were reacting on his body. Contrary to his 
usual habit, he gave way to depression. He decided, at his 
wife's entreaty, that he would not attend the Senate that 

The house was full. The conspirators were in their 
places with their daggers ready. Attendants came in to 
remove Caesar's chair. It was announced that he was not 
coming. Delay might be fatal. They conjectured that he 
already suspected something. A day's respite, and all 
might be discovered. His familiar friend whom he trusted 
— the coincidence is striking! — was employed to betray 
him. Decimus Brutus, whom it was impossible for him to 
distrust, went to entreat his attendance, giving reasons to 
which he knew that Caesar would listen, unless the plot 
had been actually betrayed. It was now eleven in the fore- 
noon. Caesar shook off his uneasiness, and rose to go. 
As he crossed the hall, his statue fell, and shivered on the 
stones. Some servant, perhaps, had heard whispers, and 
wished to warn him. As he still passed on, a stranger 
thrust a scroll into his hand, and begged him to read it on 
the spot. It contained a list of the conspirators, with a 
clear account of the plot. He supposed it to be a petition, 
and placed it carelessly among his other papers. The fate 
of the Empire hung upon a thread, but the thread was not 
broken. As Caesar had lived to reconstruct the Roman 
world, so his death was necessary to finish the work. He 
went on to the Curia, and the senators said to themselves 
that the augurs had foretold his fate, but he would not 
listen; he was doomed for his " contempt of religion." 23 

Antony, who was in attendance, was detained, as had 
been arranged, by Trebonius. Caesar entered, and took 
his seat. His presence awed men, in spite of themselves, 
and the conspirators had determined to act at once, lest 
they should lose courage to act at all. He was familiar 

B. c. 44] MURDER OF CESAR 419 

and easy of access. They gathered round him. He knew 
them all. There was not one from whom he had not a 
right to expect some sort of gratitude, and the movement 
suggested no suspicion. One had a story to tell him; an- 
other some favour to ask. Tullius Cimber, whom he had 
just made governor of Bithynia, then came close to him, 
with some request which he was unwilling to grant. 
Cimber caught his gown, as if in entreaty, and dragged it 
from his shoulders. Cassius, 24 who was standing behind, 
stabbed him in the throat. He started up with a cry, and 
caught Cassius's arm. Another poniard entered his 
breast, giving a mortal wound. He looked round, and 
seeing not one friendly face, but only a ring of daggers 
pointing at him, he drew his gown over his head, gathered 
the folds about him that he might fall decently, and 
sank down without uttering another word. 25 Cicero 
was present. The feelings with which he watched the 
scene are unrecorded, but may easily be imagined. Wav- 
ing his dagger, dripping with Caesar's blood, Brutus 
shouted to Cicero by name, congratulating him that 
liberty was restored. 26 The Senate rose with shrieks 
and confusion, and rushed into the Forum. The 
crowd outside caught the words that Caesar was dead, 
and scattered to their houses. Antony, guessing that those 
who had killed Caesar would not spare himself, hurried off 
into concealment. The murderers, bleeding some of them 
from wounds which they had given one another in their 
eagerness, followed, crying that the tyrant was dead, and 
that Rome was free; and the body of the g^eat Caesar was 
left alone in the house where a few weeks before Cicero 
told him that he was so necessary to his country that every 
senator would die before harm should reach him! 


1 Page 398 Apparently when Caesar touched there on his way to 
Egypt, after Pharsalia. Cicero says (Philippic ii. 11): "Quid? C. 
Cassius . . . qui etiam sine hisclarissimis viris, hanc rem in Cilicia ad 
ostium fluminis Cydni confecisset, si ille ad earn ripam quam consti- 
tuerat, non ad contrariam, navi appulisset." 

420 JULIUS CESAR [b. c. 44 

2 Page 399. To be distinguished from Publius Ligarius, who had been 
put to death before Thapsus. 

3 Page 399. The Gauls were especially obnoxious, and epigrams were 
circulated to insult them : 

"Gallos Caesar in triumphum ducit, idem in Curiam. 
Galli braccas deposuerunt, latum clavum sumpserunt." 

— Suetonius, Vita Julii Caesaris, 80. 

4 Page 400. Suetonius. 

b Page 402. The fifth, dating the beginning of the year, in the old 
style, from March. 

6 Page 403. Dion Cassius. 

7 Page 403. The second consul who had been put in held office but for 
a few hours. 

8 Page 403. Dion Cassius. 

9 Page 404. See the second Philippic, passim. In a letter to Decimus 
Brutus, he says: " Quare hortatione tu quidem non eges, si ne ilia quidem 
in re quae a te gesta est post hominum memoriam maxima, hortatorem 
desiderasti." Ad Fam., xi. 5. 

10 Page 405. To Atticus, xi. 5-6. 

11 Page 405. Ad Caelium, Ad Fam., ii. 16. 

12 Page 405. To Atticus, xi. 7. 

13 Page 405. See To Atticus, xi. 7-9 ; To Terentia, Ad Fam., xiv. 12. 

. M Page 406. " Tantam enim mansuetudinem, tarn inusitatam inaudi- 
tamque clementiam, tantum in summa potestate rerum omnium modum, 
tarn denique incredibilem sapientiam ac paene divinam tacitus nullo 
modo praeterire possum." — Pro Marco Marcello, 1. 

15 Page 409. Pro Marco Marcello, abridged. 

16 Page 410. " Non intelligis, si id quod me arguis voluisse interfici 
Caearem crimen sit, etiam laetatum esse morte Caesaris crimen esse ? 
Quid enim interest inter suasorem facti et approbatorem ? Aut quid 
refert utrum voluerim fieri an gaudeam factum ? Ecquis est igitur te ex- 
cepto et iis qui ilium regnare gaudebant, qui illud aut fieri noluerit, aut 
factum improbarit ? Omnes enim in culpa. Etenim omnes boni quan- 
tum in ipsis fuit Caesarem occiderunt. Aliis consilium, aliis animus, 
aliis occasio defuit. Voluntas nemini." — Second Philippic, 12. 

17 Page 411. Dion Cassius. 

18 Page 411. So Dion Cassius states, on what authority we know not. 
Suetonius says that as Caesar was returning from the Latin festival 
someone placed a laurel crown on the statue, tied with a white ribbon. 

19 Page 412. The fact is certain. Cicero taunted Antony with it in 
the Senate, in the Second Philippic. 

20 Page 415. "Cum ad rempublicam liberandam accessi, HS. mihi 
fuit quadringenties amplius," Decimus Brutus to Cicero, Ad Fam., xi. 

21 Page 417. " Vellem Idibus Martiis me ad coenam invitasses. Re- 
liquiarum nihil fuisset." — Ad Cassium, Ad Fam.,xii. 4. And again: 
" Quam vellem ad illas pulcherrimas epulas me Idibus Martiis invi- 
tasses ! Reliquiarum nihil haberemus." Ad Trebonium, Ad Fam., x. 28. 

B. c. 44] MURDER OF CAESAR 421 

22 Page 418. Dion Cassius, C. Julius Caesar, xliv. 17. 

23 Page 418. " Spreta religione." — Suetonius. 

24 Page 419. Not perhaps Caius Cassius, but another. Suetonius 
says " alter e Cassiis." 

25 Page 419. So says Suetonius, the best extant authority, who refers 
to the famous words addressed to Brutus only as a legend : " Atque ita 
tribua et viginti plagis confossus est, uno modo ad primura ictum 
gemitu sine voce edito. Etsi tradiderunt quidam Marco Bruto irru- 
enti dixisse Kai cri> el iKeivwv icai <ri> t4kvov ; " — Julius Caesar, 82. 

26 Page 419. " Cruentum alte extollens Marcus Brutus pugionem, 
Ciceronem nominatim exclamavit atque ei recuperatam libertatem est 
gratulatus." — Philippic ii. 12. 


THE tyrannicides, as the murderers of Caesar called 
themselves, had expected that the Roman mob 
would be caught by the cry of Liberty, and would 
hail them as the deliverers of their country. They found 
that the people did not respond as they had anticipated. 
The city was stunned. The Forum was empty. The 
gladiators, whom they had secreted in the Temple, broke 
out and plundered the unprotected booths. A dead and 
ominous silence prevailed everywhere. At length a few 
citizens collected in knots. Brutus spoke, and Cassius 
spoke. They extolled their old constitution. They said 
that Caesar had overthrown it; that they had slain him, not 
from private hatred or private interest, but to restore the 
liberties of Rome. The audience was dead and cold. No 
answering shouts came back to reassure them. The 
citizens could not forget that these men who spoke so fairly 
had a few days before fawned on Caesar as the saviour of the 
Empire, and, as if human honours were too little, had 
voted a temple to him as a god. The fire would not kindle. 
Lepidus came in with troops, and occupied the Forum. 
The conspirators withdrew into the Capitol, where Cicero 
and others joined them, and the night was passed in 
earnest discussion what next was to be done. They had 
intended to declare that Caesar had been a tyrant, to throw 
his body into the Tiber, and to confiscate his property to 
the State. They discovered to their consternation that if 
Caesar was a tyrant, all his acts would be invalidated. The 
praetors and tribunes held their offices, the governors their 
provinces, under Caesar's nomination. If Caesar's acts 
were set aside, Decimus Brutus was not governor of North 
Italy, nor Marcus Brutus of Macedonia; nor was Dola- 
bella consul, as he had instantly claimed to be on Caesar's 
death. Their names, and the names of many more whom 


b. c. 44] AFTER THE MURDER 423 

Caesar had promoted, would have to be laid before the 
Comitia, and in the doubtful humour of the people they 
little liked the risk. That the dilemma should have been 
totally unforeseen was characteristic of the men and their 

Nor was this the worst. Lands had been allotted to 
Caesar's troops. Many thousands of colonists were wait- 
ing to depart for Carthage and Corinth and other places 
where settlements had been provided for them. These ar- 
rangements would equally fall through, and it was easy to 
know what would follow. Antony and Lepidus, too, had 
to be reckoned with. Antony, as the surviving consul, was 
the supreme lawful authority in the city; and Lepidus and 
his soldiers might have a word to say if the body of their 
great commander was flung into the river as the corpse of 
a malefactor. Interest and fear suggested more moderate 
counsels. The conspirators determined that Caesar's ap- 
pointments must stand; his acts, it seemed, must stand also; 
and his remains, therefore, must be treated with respect. 
Imagination took another flight. Caesar's death might be 
regarded as a sacrifice, an expiatory offering for the sins of 
the nation; and the divided parties might embrace in virtue 
of the atonement. They agreed to send for Antony, and 
invite him to assist in saving society; and they asked Cicero 
to be their messenger. Cicero, great and many as his 
faults might be, was not a fool. He declined to go on so 
absurd a mission. He knew Antony too well to dream 
that he could be imposed on by fantastic illusions. An- 
tony, he said, would promise anything, but if they trusted 
him, they would have reason to repent. 1 Others, however, 
undertook the office. Antony agreed to meet them, and 
the next morning the Senate was assembled in the Temple 
of Terra. 

Antony presided as consul, and after a few words from 
him Cicero rose. He disapproved of the course which his 
friends were taking; he foresaw what must come of it; but 
he had been overruled, and he made the best of what he 
could not help. He gave a sketch of Roman political his- 

424 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 44 

tory. He went back to the secession to Mount Aventine. 
He spoke of the Gracchi, of Saturninus and Glaucia, of 
Marius and Sylla, of Sertorius and Pompey, of Caesar arid 
the still unforgotten Clodius. He describes the fate of 
Athens and of other Grecian States into which faction had 
penetrated. If Rome continued divided, the conquerors 
would rule over its ruins; therefore he appealed to the two 
factions to forget their rivalries and to return to peace and 
concord. But they must decide at once, for the signs were 
already visible of a fresh conflict. 

" Caesar is slain/' he said. " The Capitol is occupied by 
the Optimates, the Forum by soldiers, and the people are 
full of terror. Is violence to be again answered by more 
violence? These many years we have lived less like men 
than like wild beasts in cycles of recurring revenge. Let 
us forget the past. Let us draw a veil over all that has 
been done, not looking too curiously into the acts of any 
man. Much may be said to show that Caesar deserved his 
death, and much against those who have killed him. But 
to raise the question will breed fresh quarrels; and if we are 
wise we shall regard the scene which we have witnessed as 
a convulsion of nature which is now at an end. Let 
Caesar's ordinances, let Caesar's appointments be main- 
tained. None such must be heard of again. But what is 
done cannot be undone." 2 

Admirable advice, were it as easy to act on good counsel 
as to give it. The murder of such a man as Caesar was not 
to be so easily smoothed over. But the delusive vision 
seemed for a moment to please. The Senate passed an 
act of oblivion. The agitation in the army was quieted 
when the men heard that their lands were secure. But 
there were two other questions which required an answer, 
and an immediate one. Caesar's body, after remaining till 
evening on the floor of the Senate-house, had been carried 
home in the dusk in a litter by three of his servants, and 
was now lying in his palace. If it was not to be thrown 
into the Tiber, what was to be done with it? Caesar had 
left a will, which was safe with his other papers in the hands 

b. c. 44] FUNERAL OF CESAR 425 

of Antony. Was the will to be read and recognised? 
Though Cicero had advised in the Senate that the discus- 
sion whether Caesar had deserved death should not be 
raised, yet it was plain to him and to everyone that, unless 
Caesar was held guilty of conspiring against the constitu- 
tion, the murder was and would be regarded as a most 
execrable crime. He dreaded the effect of a public funeral. 
He feared that the will might contain provisions which 
would rouse the passions of the people. Though Caesar 
was not for various reasons to be pronounced a tyrant, 
Cicero advised that he should be buried privately, as if 
his name was under a cloud, and that his property should 
be escheated to the nation. But the humour of concilia- 
tion and the theory of " the atoning sacrifice " had caught 
the Senate. Caesar had done great things for his country. 
It would please the army that he should have an honour- 
able sepulture. 

If they had refused, the result would not have been 
greatly different. Sooner or later, when the stunning 
effects of the shock had passed off, the murder must have 
appeared to Rome and Italy in its true colours. The 
Optimates talked of the constitution. The constitution in 
their hands had been a parody of liberty. Caesar's political 
life had been spent in wresting from them the powers which 
they had abused. Caesar had punished the oppressors of 
the provinces. Caesar had forced the nobles to give the 
people a share of the public lands. Caesar had opened the 
doors of citizenship to the libertini, the distant colonists, 
and the provincials. It was for this that the Senate hated 
him. For this they had fought against him; for this they 
murdered him. No Roman had ever served his country- 
better in peace or war, and thus he had been rewarded. 

Such thoughts were already working in tens of thou- 
sands of breasts. A feeling of resentment was fast rising, 
with as yet no certain purpose before it. In this mood 
the funeral could not fail to lead to some fierce explosion. 
For this reason Antony had pressed for it, and the Senate 
had given their consent. 

426 JULIUS C^SAR [b. c. 44 

The body was brought down to the Forum and placed 
upon the Rostra. The dress had not been changed; the 
gown, gashed with daggers and soaked in blood, was still 
wrapped about it. The will was read first. It reminded 
the Romans that they had been always in Caesar's thoughts, 
for he had left each citizen seventy-five drachmas (nearly 
3I. of English money), and he had left them his gardens on 
the Tiber, as a perpetual recreation ground, a possession 
which Domitius Ahenobarbus had designed for himself 
before Pharsalia. He had made Octavius his general heir; 
among the second heirs, should Octavius fail, he had named 
Decimus Brutus, who had betrayed him. A deep move- 
ment of emotion passed through the crowd when, beside 
the consideration for themselves, they heard from this 
record, which could not lie, a proof of the confidence which 
had been so abused. Antony, after waiting for the passion 
to work, then came forward. 

Cicero had good reason for fear of Antony. He was a 
loose soldier, careless in his life, ambitious, extravagant, 
little more scrupulous perhaps than any average Roman 
gentleman. But for Caesar his affection was genuine. 
The people were in intense expectation. He produced the 
body, all bloody as it had fallen, and he bade a herald first 
read the votes which the Senate had freshly passed, heap- 
ing those extravagant honours upon Caesar which he had 
not desired, and the oath which the senators had each per- 
sonally taken to defend him from violence. He then spoke 
— spoke with the natural vehemence of a friend, yet saying 
nothing which was not literally true. The services of 
Caesar neither needed nor permitted the exaggeration of 

He began with the usual encomiums. He spoke of 
Caesar's family, his birth, his early history, his personal 
characteristics, his thrifty private habits, his public liber- 
ality; he described him as generous to his friends, forbear- 
ing with his enemies, without evil in himself, and reluctant 
to believe evil of others. 

" Power in most men/' he said, " has brought their 

b. c. 44] SPEECH OF ANTONY 427 

faults to light. Power in Caesar brought into prominence 
his excellences. Prosperity did not make him insolent, 
for it gave him a sphere which corresponded to his nature. 
His first services in Spain deserved a triumph; of his laws 
I could speak forever. His campaigns in Gaul are known 
to you all. The land from which the Teutons and Cimbri 
poured over the Alps is now as well ordered as Italy. 
Caesar would have added Germany and Britain to your 
Empire, but his enemies would not have it so. They re- 
garded the Commonwealth as the patrimony of themselves. 
They brought him home. They went on with their usur- 
pations till you yourselves required his help. He set you 
free. He set Spain free. He laboured for peace with 
Pompey, but Pompey preferred to go into Greece, to 
bring the powers of the East upon you, and he perished in 
his obstinacy. 

" Caesar took no honour to himself for this victory. He 
abhorred the necessity of it. He took no revenge. He 
praised those who had been faithful to Pompey, and he 
blamed Pharnaces for deserting him. He was sorry for 
Pompey's death, and he treated his murderers as they de- 
served. He settled Egypt and Armenia. He would have 
disposed of the Parthians had not fresh seditions recalled 
him to Italy. He quelled those seditions. He restored 
peace in Africa and Spain, and again his one desire was to 
spare his fellow-citizens. There was in him an * inbred 
goodness.' 3 He was always the same — never carried away 
by anger, and never spoilt by success. He did not retaliate 
for the past, he never tried by severity to secure himself 
for the future. His effort throughout was to save all who 
would allow themselves to be saved. He repaired old acts 
of injustice. He restored the families of those who had 
been proscribed by Sylla, but he burnt unread the corre- 
spondence of Pompey and Scipio, that those whom it com- 
promised might neither suffer injury nor fear injury. You 
honoured him as your father; you loved him as your bene- 
factor; you made him chief of the State, not being curious 
of titles, but regarding the most which you could give as 

428 JULIUS C;ESAR [b. c. 44 

less than he had deserved at your hands. Towards the gods 
he was High Priest. To you he was Consul; to the army 
he was Imperator; to the enemies of his country Dictator. 
In sum he was Pater Patriae. And this your father, your 
Pontifex, this hero, whose person was declared inviolable, 
lies dead — dead, not by disease or age, not by war or visi- 
tation of God, but here at home, by conspiracy within your 
own walls, slain in the Senate-house, the warrior unarmed, 
the peacemaker naked to his foes, the righteous judge in 
the seat of judgment. He whom no foreign enemy could 
hurt has been killed by his fellow-countrymen — he, who 
had so often shown mercy, by those whom he had spared. 
Where, Caesar, is your love for mankind? Where is the 
sacredness of your life? Where are your laws? Here you 
lie murdered — here in the Forum, through which so often 
you marched in triumph wreathed with garlands; here 
upon the rostra from which you were wont to address your 
people. Alas for your gray hairs dabbled in blood! alas 
for this lacerated robe in which you were dressed for the 
sacrifice! " 4 

Antony's words, as he well knew, were a declaration of 
irreconcilable war against the murderers and their friends. 
As his impassioned language did its work the multitude 
rose into fury. They cursed the conspirators. They 
cursed the Senate who had sat by while the deed was being 
done. They had been moved to fury by the murder of 
Clodius. Ten thousand Clodiuses, had he been all which 
their imagination painted him, could not equal one Caesar. 
They took on themselves the order of the funeral. They 
surrounded the body, which was reverently raised by the 
officers of the Forum. Part proposed to carry it to the 
Temple of Jupiter, in the Capitol, and to burn it under the 
eyes of the assassins; part to take it into the Senate-house 
and use the meeting-place of the Optimates a second time 
as the pyre of the people's friend. A few legionaries, per- 
haps to spare the city a general conflagration, advised that 
it should be consumed where it lay. The platform was 
torn up and the broken timbers piled into a heap. Chairs 


and benches were thrown on to it, the whole crowd rush- 
ing wildly to add a chip or splinter. Actors flung in their 
dresses, musicians their instruments, soldiers their swords. 
Women added their necklaces and scarfs. Mothers 
brought up their children to contribute toys and play- 
things. On the pile so composed the body of Caesar was 
reduced to ashes. The remains were collected with affec- 
tionate care and deposited in the tomb of the Caesars, in 
the Campus Martius. The crowd, it was observed, was 
composed largely of libertini and of provincials whom 
Caesar had enfranchised. The demonstrations of sorrow 
were most remarkable among the Jews, crowds of whom 
continued for many nights to collect and wail in the Forum 
at the scene of the singular ceremony. 

When the people were in such a mood, Rome was no 
place for the conspirators. They scattered over the Em- 
pire: Decimus Brutus, Marcus Brutus, Cassius, Cimber, 
Trebonius, retreated to the provinces which Caesar had as- 
signed them, the rest clinging to the shelter of their friends. 
The legions — a striking tribute to Roman discipline — re- 
mained by their eagles, faithful to their immediate duties, 
and obedient to their officers, till it could be seen how 
events would turn. Lepidus joined the army in Gaul; 
Antony continued in Rome, holding the administration in 
his hands and watching the action of the Senate. Caesar 
was dead. But Caesar still lived. " It was not possible 
that the grave should hold him." The people said that he 
was a god, and had gone back to heaven, where his star had 
been seen ascending; 5 his spirit remained on earth, and the 
vain blows of the assassins had been but " malicious mock- 
ery." " We have killed the king," exclaimed Cicero in 
the bitterness of his disenchantment, " but the kingdom is 
with us still;" "we have taken away the tyrant; the tyr- 
anny survives." Caesar had not overthrown the oligarchy; 
their own incapacity, their own selfishness, their own base- 
ness, had overthrown them. Caesar had been but the 
reluctant instrument of the power which metes out to men 
the inevitable penalties of their own misdeeds. They had 

430 JULIUS CAESAR [b. c. 44 

dreamt that the constitution was a living force which would 
revive of itself as soon as its enemy was gone. They did 
not know that it was dead already, and that they had them- 
selves destroyed it. The constitution was but an agree- 
ment by which the Roman people had consented to abide 
for their common good. It had ceased to be for the com- 
mon good. The experience of fifty miserable years had 
proved that it meant the supremacy of the rich, maintained 
by the bought votes of demoralized electors. The soil of 
Italy, the industry and happiness of tens of millions of man- 
kind, from the Rhine to the Euphrates, had been the spoil 
of five hundred families and their relatives and depend- 
ents, of men whose occupation was luxury, and whose 
appetites were for monstrous pleasures. The self-respect 
of reasonable men could no longer tolerate such a rule in 
Italy or out of it. In killing Caesar the Optimates had 
been as foolish as they were treacherous; for Caesar's efforts 
had been to reform the constitution, not to abolish it. The 
Civil War had risen from their dread of his second consul- 
ship, which they had feared would make an end of their 
corruptions; and that the constitution should be purged 
of the poison in its veins was the sole condition on which 
its continuance was possible. The obstinacy, the ferocity, 
the treachery of the aristocracy, had compelled Caesar to 
crush them; and the more desperate their struggles the 
more absolute the necessity became. But he alone could 
have restored as much of popular liberty as was consistent 
with the responsibilities of such a government as the Em- 
pire required. In Caesar alone were combined the intellect 
and the power necessary for such a work; and they had 
killed him, and in doing so had passed final sentence on 
themselves. Not as realities any more, but as harmless 
phantoms, the forms of the old Republic were henceforth 
to persist. In the army only remained the imperial con- 
sciousness of the honour and duty of Roman citizens. To 
the army, therefore, the rule was transferred. The Ro- 
man nation had grown as the oak grows, self-developed in 
severe morality, each citizen a law to himself, and therefore 

B. c. 44-43] OCTAVIUS AT ROME 43 1 

capable of political freedom in an unexampled degree. All 
organizations destined to endure spring from forces in- 
herent in themselves, and must grow freely, or they will not 
grow at all. When the tree reaches maturity, decay sets 
in; if it be left standing, the disintegration of the fibre goes 
swiftly forward; if the stem is severed from the root, the de- 
stroying power is arrested, and the timber will endure a 
thousand years. So it was with Rome. The constitution 
under which the Empire had sprung up was poisoned, and 
was brought to a violent end before it had affected materi- 
ally for evil the masses of the people. The solid structure 
was preserved — not to grow any longer, not to produce a 
new Camillus or a new Regulus, a new Scipio Africanus or 
a new Tiberius Gracchus, but to form an endurable shelter 
for civilized mankind, until a fresh, spiritual life was de- 
veloped out of Palestine to remodel the conscience of 

A gleam of hope opened to Cicero in the summer. 
Octavius, who was in Greece at the time of the murder, 
came to Rome to claim his inheritance. He was but 
eighteen, too young for the burden which was thrown 
upon him; and being unknown, he had the confidence of 
the legions to win. The army, dispersed over the prov- 
inces, had as yet no collective purpose. Antony, it is pos- 
sible, was jealous of him, and looked on himself as Caesar's 
true representative and avenger. Octavius, finding An- 
tony hostile, or at least indifferent to his claims, played 
with the Senate with cool foresight till he felt the ground 
firm under his feet. Cicero boasted that he would use 
Octavius to ruin Antony, and would throw him over when 
he had served his purpose. " Cicero will learn," Octavius 
said, when the words were reported to him, " that i shall 
not be played with so easily." 

For a year the confusion lasted; two of Caesar's officers, 
Hirtius and Pausa, were chosen consuls by the senatorial 
party, to please the legions; and Antony contended dubi- 
ously with them and Decimus Brutus for some months in 
the north of Italy. But Antony joined Lepidus, and the 

432 JULIUS C^SAR [ B . c . 44-43 

Gallic legions with judicial fitness brought Cicero's dreams 
to the ground. Cicero's friend, Plancus, who commanded 
in Normandy and Belgium, attempted a faint resistance, 
but was made to yield to the resolution of his troops. 
Octavius and Antony came to an understanding; and 
Caesar's two generals, who were true to his memory, and 
Octavius, who was the heir of his name, crossed the Alps, 
at the head of the united army of Gaul, to punish the mur- 
der and restore peace to the world. No resistance was 
possible. Many of the senators, like Cicero, though they 
had borne no part in the assassination, had taken the guilt 
of it upon themselves by the enthusiasm of their approval. 
They were all men who had sworn fidelity to Caesar, and 
had been ostentatious in their profession of devotion to 
him. It had become too plain that from such persons no 
repentance was to be looked for. They were impelled by 
a malice or a fanaticism which clemency could not touch or 
reason influence. So long as they lived they would still 
conspire; and any weapons, either of open war or secret 
treachery, would seem justifiable to them in the cause 
which they regarded as sacred. Caesar himself would, no 
doubt, have again pardoned them. Octavius, Antony, and 
Lepidus were men of more common mould. The mur- 
derers of Caesar, and those who had either instigated them 
secretly or applauded them afterwards, were included in a 
proscription list, drawn by retributive justice on the model 
of Sylla's. Such of them as were in Italy were imme- 
diately killed. Those in the provinces, as if with the curse 
of Cain upon their heads, came one by one to miserable 
ends. Brutus and Cassius fought hard and fell at Philippi. 
In three years the tyrannicides of the Ides of March, with 
their aiders and abettors, were all dead, some killed in 
battle, some in prison, some dying by their own hand- — 
slain with the daggers with which they had stabbed their 

Out of the whole party the fate of one only deserves spe- 
cial notice, a man whose splendid talents have bought for- 
giveness for his faults, and have given him a place in the 

b. c. 43] FATE OF CICERO 433 

small circle of the really great whose memory is not al- 
lowed to die. 

After the dispersion of the conspirators which followed 
Caesar's funeral, Cicero had remained in Rome. His 
timidity seemed to have forsaken him, and he had striven, 
with an energy which recalled his brightest days, to set the 
constitution again upon its feet. Antony charged him in 
the Senate with having been contriver of Caesar's death. 
He replied with invectives fierce and scurrilous as those 
which he had heaped upon Catiline and Clodius. A time 
had been when he had affected to look on Antony as his 
preserver. Now there was no imaginable infamy in which 
he did not steep his name. He spoke of the murder as the 
most splendid achievement recorded in history, and he 
regretted only that he had not been taken into counsel by 
the deliverers of their country. Antony would not then 
have been alive to rekindle civil discord. When Antony 
left Rome, Cicero was for a few months again the head of 
the State. He ruled the Senate, controlled the Treasury, 
corresponded with the conspirators in the provinces, and 
advised their movements. He continued sanguine him- 
self, and he poured spirit into others. No one can refuse 
admiration to the last blaze of his expiring powers. But 
when he heard that Antony and Lepidius and Octavius had 
united, and were coming into Italy with the whole Western 
army, he saw that all was over. He was now sixty-three — 
too old for hope. He could hardly have wished to live, 
and this time he was well assured that there would be no 
mercy for him. Caesar would have spaced a man whom 
he esteemed in spite of his infirmities. But there was no 
Caesar now, and fair speeches would serve his turn no 
longer. He retired from the city with his brother Quintus, 
and had some half-formed purpose of flying to Brutus, who 
was still in arms in Macedonia. He even embarked, but 
without a settled resolution, and he allowed himself to be 
driven back by a storm. Theatrical even in extremities, he 
thought of returning to Rome and of killing himself in 

Caesar's house, that he might bring the curse of his blood 

434 JULIUS C.ESAR [b. c. 43 

upon Octavius. In these uncertainties he drifted into his 
own villa at Formiae, 6 saying in weariness, and with a sad 
note of his old self-importance, that he would die in the 
country which he had so often saved. Here, on the 4th 
of December, B. C. 43, Popilius Lcenas, an officer of An- 
tony's, came to find him. Peasants from the neighbour- 
hood brought news to the villa that the soldiers were 
approaching. His servants thrust him into a litter and 
carried him down through the woods toward the sea. 
Lcenas followed and overtook him. To his slaves he had 
been always the gentlest of masters. They would have 
given their lives in his defence if he would have allowed 
them; but he bade them set the litter down and save them- 
selves. He thrust out his head between the curtains, and 
it was instantly struck off. 

So ended Cicero, a tragic combination of magnificent 
talents, high aspirations, and true desire to do right, with 
an infirmity of purpose and a latent insincerity of character 
which neutralized and could almost make us forget his 
nobler qualities. It cannot be said of Cicero that he was 
blind to the faults of the party to which he attached him- 
self. To him we owe our knowledge of what the Roman 
aristocrats really were, and of the hopelessness of expect- 
ing that they could have been trusted any longer with the 
administration of the Empire, if the Empire itself was to 
endure. Cicero's natural place was at Caesar's side; but to 
Caesar alone of his contemporaries he was conscious of an 
inferiority which was intolerable to him. In his own eyes 
he was always the first person. He had been made un- 
happy by the thought that posterity might rate Pompey 
above himself. Closer acquaintance had reassured him 
about Pompey, but in Caesar he was conscious of a higher 
presence, and he rebelled against the humiliating acknowl- 
edgment. Supreme as an orator he could always be, and 
an order of things was, therefore, most desirable where 
oratory held the highest place. Thus he chose his part 
with the " boni," whom he despised while he supported 
them, drifting on through vacillation into treachery, till 

b. c. 43] CHARACTER OF CICERO 435 

" the ingredients of the poisoned chalice " were " com- 
mended to his own lips." 

In Cicero Nature half-made a great man and left him un- 
completed. Our characters are written in our forms, and 
the bust of Cicero is the key to his history. The brow is 
broad and strong, the nose large, the lips tightly com- 
pressed, the features lean and keen from restless intellectual 
energy. The loose bending figure, the neck, too weak for 
the weight of the head, explain the infirmity of will, the 
passion, the cunning, the vanity, the absence of manliness 
and veracity. He was born into an age of violence with 
which he was too feeble to contend. The gratitude of 
mankind for his literary excellence will forever preserve 
his memory from too harsh a judgment. 


1 Page 423. Philippic ii. 35. 

2 Page 424. Abridged from Dion Cassius, who probably gives no 
more than the traditionary version of Cicero's words. 

3 Page 427. w E/.i0utos xPVV'bTVs are Dion Cassius's words. Antony's 
language was differently reported, and perhaps there was no literal 
record of it. Dion Cassius, however, can hardly have himself com- 
posed the version which he gives in his history; for he calls the speech 
as ill-timed as it was brilliant. 

4 Page 428. Abridged from Dion Cassius, xliv. 36. 

5 Page 429. " In deorum numerum relatus est non ore modo decernen- 
tium sed et persuasione vulgi." — Suetonius. 

6 Page 434. Near Gaeta. 


IT remains to offer a few general remarks on the person 
whose life and actions I have endeavoured to describe 
in the preceding pages. 
In all conditions of human society, distinguished men are 
the subjects of legend; but the character of the legend 
varies with the disposition of the time. In ages which we 
call heroic the saint works miracles, the warrior performs 
exploits beyond the strength of natural man. In ages less 
visionary which are given to ease and enjoyment the tend- 
ency is to bring a great man down to the common level, 
and to discover or invent faults which shall show that he 
is or was but a little man after all. Our vanity is soothed 
by evidence that those who have eclipsed us in the race of 
life are no better than ourselves, or in some respects are 
worse than ourselves; and if to these general impulses be 
added political or personal animosity, accusations of de- 
pravity are circulated as surely about such men, and are 
credited as readily, as under other influences are the mar- 
vellous achievements of a Cid or a St. Francis. In the 
present day we reject miracles and prodigies, we are on 
our guard against the mythology of hero worship, just as 
we disbelieve in the eminent superiority of any one of our 
contemporaries to another. We look less curiously into 
the mythology of scandal, we accept easily and willingly 
stories disparaging to illustrious persons in history, be- 
cause similar stories are told and retold with so much con- 
fidence and fluency among the political adversaries of those 
who have the misfortune to be their successful rivals. The 
absurdity of a calumny may be as evident as the absurdity 
of a miracle; the ground for belief may be no more than 
a lightness of mind, and a less pardonable wish that it 
may be true. But the idle tale floats in society, and by 



and by is written down in books and passes into the region 
of established realities. 

The tendency to idolize great men and the tendency to 
depreciate them arise alike in emotion; but the slanders 
of disparagement are as truly legends as the wonder-tales 
of saints and warriors; and anecdotes related of Caesar at 
patrician dinner-parties at Rome as little deserve attention 
as the information so freely given upon the habits of mod- 
ern statesmen in the salons of London and Paris. They 
are read now by us in classic Latin, but they were recorded 
by men who hated Caesar and hated all that he had done; 
and that a poem has survived for two thousand years is no 
evidence that the author of it, even though he might be a 
Catullus, was uninfluenced by the common passions of 

Caesar, it is allowed, had extraordinary talents, extraordi- 
nary energy, and some commendable qualities; but he was, 
as the elder Curio said, " omnium mulierum vir et om- 
nium virorum mulier "; he had mistresses in every country 
which he visited, and he had liaisons with half the ladies in 
Rome. That Caesar's morality was altogether superior to 
that of the average of his contemporaries is in a high de- 
gree improbable. He was a man of the world, peculiarly 
attractive to women, and likely to have been attracted by 
them. On the other hand, the undiscriminating loose- 
ness attributed to him would have been peculiarly degrad- 
ing in a man whose passions were so eminently under 
control, whose calmness was never known to be discom- 
posed, and who, in everything which he did, acted always 
with deliberate will. Still worse would it be if, by his 
example, he made ridiculous his own laws against 
adultery and indulged himself in vices which he 
punished in others. What, then, is the evidence? 
The story of Nicomedes may be passed over. All 
that is required on that subject has been already said. It 
was never heard of before Caesar's consulship, and the 
proofs are no more than the libels of Bibulus, the satire of 
Catullus, and certain letters of Cicero's which were never 


published, but were circulated privately in Roman aristo- 
cratic society. 1 A story is suspicious which is first pro- 
duced after twenty years in a moment of political excite- 
ment. Caesar spoke of it with stern disgust. He replied 
to Catullus with an invitation to dinner; otherwise he 
passed it over in silence — the only answer which an hon- 
ourable man could give. Suetonius quotes a loose song 
sung by Caesar's soldiers at his triumph. We know in 
what terms British sailors often speak of their favourite 
commanders. Affection, when it expresses itself most 
emphatically, borrows the language of its opposites. Who 
would dream of introducing into a serious life of Nelson 
catches chanted in the forecastle of the Victory? But 
which of the soldiers sang these verses? Does Suetonius 
mean that the army sang them in chorus as they marched 
in procession? The very notion is preposterous. It is 
proved that during Caesar's lifetime scandal was busy with 
his name; and that it would be so busy, whether justified or 
not, is certain from the nature of things. Cicero says that 
no public man in Rome escaped from such imputations. 
He himself flung them broadcast, and they were equally 
returned upon himself. The surprise is rather that Caesar's 
name should have suffered so little, and that he should 
have been admitted on reflection by Suetonius to have 
been comparatively free from the abominable form of vice 
which was then so common. 

As to his liaisons with women, the handsome, brilliant 
Caesar, surrounded by a halo of military glory, must have 
been a Paladin of romance to any woman who had a 
capacity of admiration in her. His own distaste for 
gluttony and hard drinking, and for the savage amuse- 
ments in which the male Romans so much delighted, may 
have made the society of cultivated ladies more agreeable 
to him than that of men, and if he showed any such pref- 
erence the coarsest interpretation would be inevitably 
placed upon it. These relations, perhaps, in so loose 
an age assumed occasionally a more intimate form; but it 
is to be observed that the first public act recorded of 


Caesar was his refusal to divorce his wife at Sylla's bidding; 
that he was passionately attached to his sister; and that 
his mother, Aurelia, lived with him till she died, and that 
this mother was a Roman matron of the strictest and se- 
verest type. Many names were mentioned in connection 
with him, yet there is no record of any natural child save 
Brutus, and one other whose claims were denied and dis- 

Two intrigues, it may be said, are beyond dispute. His 
connection with the mother of Brutus was notorious. 
Cleopatra, in spite of Oppius, was living with him in his 
house at the time of his murder. That it was so believed 
a hundred years after his death is, of course, indisputable; 
but in both these cases the story is entangled with legends 
which show how busily imagination had been at work. 
Brutus was said to be Caesar's son, though Caesar was but 
fifteen when he was born; and Brutus, though he had the 
temper of an Orestes, was devotedly attached to his 
mother in spite of the supposed adultery, and professed to 
have loved Caesar when he offered him as a sacrifice to his 
country's liberty. Cleopatra is said to have joined Caesar 
at Rome after his return from Spain, and to have resided 
openly with him as his mistress. Supposing that she did 
come to Rome, it is still certain that Calpurnia was in 
Caesar's house when he was killed. Cleopatra must have 
been Calpurnia's guest as well as her husband's; and her 
presence, however commented upon in society, could not 
possibly have borne the avowed complexion which tradi- 
tion assigned to it. On the other hand, it is quite intelligi- 
ble that the young Queen of Egypt, who owed her 
position to Caesar, might have come, as other princes came, 
on a visit of courtesy, and that Caesar after their acquaint- 
ance at Alexandria should have invited her to stay with 
him. But was Cleopatra at Rome at all? The only real 
evidence for her presence there is to be found in a few 
words of Cicero: " Reginae fuga mihi non molesta." — " I 
am not sorry to hear of the flight of the queen." 2 There 
is nothing to show that the " queen " was the Egyptian 


queen. Granting that the word Egyptian is to be under- 
stood, Cicero may have referred to Arsinoe, who was 
called Queen as well as her sister, and had been sent to 
Rome to be shown at Caesar's triumph. 

But enough and too much on this miserable subject. 
Men will continue to form their opinions about it, not 
upon the evidence, but according to their preconceived 
notions of what is probable or improbable. Ages of 
progress and equality are as credulous of evil as ages of 
faith are credulous of good, and reason will not modify con- 
victions which do not originate in reason. 

Let us pass on to surer ground. 

In person Caesar was tall and slight. His features were 
more refined than was usual in Roman faces; the forehead 
was wide and high, the nose large and thin, the lips full, 
the eyes dark gray like an eagle's, the neck extremely thick 
and sinewy. His complexion was pale. His beard and 
moustache were kept carefully shaved. His hair was short 
and naturally scanty, falling off towards the end of his life 
and leaving him partially bald. His voice, especially when 
he spoke in public, was high and shrill. His health was 
uniformly strong until his last year, when he became sub- 
ject to epileptic fits. He was a great bather, and scrupu- 
lously clean in all his habits, abstemious in his food, and 
careless in what it consisted, rarely or never touching wine, 
and noting sobriety as the highest of qualities when de- 
scribing any new people. He was an athlete in early life, 
admirable in all manly exercises, and especially in riding. 
In Gaul, as has been said already, he rode a remarkable 
horse, which he had bred himself, and which would let no 
one but Caesar mount him. From his boyhood it was ob- 
served of him that he was the truest of friends, that he 
avoided quarrels, and was most easily appeased when of- 
fended. In manner he was quiet and gentlemanlike, with 
the natural courtesy of high breeding. On an occasion 
when he was dining somewhere the other guests found the 
oil too rancid for them. Caesar took it without remark, 
to spare his entertainer's feelings. When on a journey 


through a forest with his friend Oppius, he came one night 
to a hut where there was a single bed. Oppius being un- 
well, Caesar gave it up to him, and slept on the ground. 

In his public character he may be regarded under three 
aspects, as a politician, a soldier, and a man of letters. 

Like Cicero, Caesar entered public life at the bar. He 
belonged by birth to the popular party, but he showed no 
disposition, like the Gracchi, to plunge into political agita- 
tion. His aims were practical. He made war only upon 
injustice and oppression; and when he commenced as a 
pleader he was noted for the energy with which he pro- 
tected a client whom he believed to have been wronged. 
At a later period, before he was praetor, he was engaged in 
defending Masintha, a young Numidian prince, who had 
suffered some injury from Hiempsal, the father of Juba. 
Juba himself came to Rome on the occasion, bringing with 
him the means of influencing the judges which Jugurtha 
had found so effective. Caesar in his indignation seized 
Juba by the beard in the court; and when Masintha was 
sentenced to some unjust penalty Caesar carried him off, 
concealed him in his house, and took him to Spain in his 
carriage. When he rose into the Senate, his powers as 
a speaker became strikingly remarkable. Cicero, who 
often heard him, and was not a favourable judge, said that 
there was a pregnancy in his sentences and a dignity in 
his manner which no orator in Rome could approach. 
But he never spoke to court popularity; his arm from first 
to last was better government, the prevention of bribery 
and extortion, and the distribution among deserving citi- 
zens of some portion of the public land which the rich were 
stealing. The Julian laws, which excited the indignation 
of the aristocracy, had no other objects than these; and 
had they been observed they would have saved the con- 
stitution. The obstinacy of faction and the civil war which 
grew out of it obliged him to extend his horizon, to con- 
template more radical reforms — a large extension of the 
privileges of citizenship, with the introduction of the 

provincial nobility into the Senate, and the transfer of the 


administration from the Senate and annually elected mag- 
istrates to the permanent chief of the army. But his 
objects throughout were purely practical. The purpose of 
government he conceived to be the execution of justice; 
and a constitutional liberty under which justice was made 
impossible did not appear to him to be liberty at all. 

The practicality which showed itself in his general aims 
appeared also in his mode of working. Caesar, it was ob- 
served, when anything was to be done, selected the man 
who was best able to do it, not caring particularly who 
or what he might be in other respects. To this faculty of 
discerning and choosing fit persons to execute his orders 
may be ascribed the extraordinary success of his own pro- 
vincial administration, the enthusiasm which was felt for 
him in the North of Italy, and the perfect quiet of Gaul 
after the completion of the conquest. Caesar did not crush 
the Gauls under the weight of Italy. He took the best of 
them into the Roman service, promoted them, led them 
to associate the interests of the Empire with their personal 
advancement and the prosperity of their own people. No 
act of Caesar's showed more sagacity than the introduc- 
tion of Gallic nobles into the Senate; none was more bit- 
ter to the Scipios and Metelli, who were compelled to share 
their august privileges with these despised barbarians. 

It was by accident that Caesar took up the profession of 
a soldier; yet perhaps no commander who ever lived 
showed greater military genius. The conquest of Gaul 
was effected by a force numerically insignificant, which was 
worked with the precision of a machine. The variety of 
uses to which it was capable of being turned implied, in the 
first place, extraordinary forethought in the selection of 
materials. Men whose nominal duty was merely to fight 
were engineers, architects, mechanics of the highest order. 
In a few hours they could extemporize an impregnable 
fortress on an open hillside. They bridged the Rhine in a 
week. They built a fleet in a month. The legions at 
Alesia held twice their number pinned within their works, 
while they kept at bay the whole force of insurgent Gaul, 


entirely by scientific superiority. The machine, which was 
thus perfect, was composed of human beings who required 
supplies of tools, and arms, and clothes, and food, and shel- 
ter, and for all these it depended on the forethought of 
its commander. Maps there were none. Countries en- 
tirely unknown had to be surveyed; routes had to be laid 
out; the depths and courses of rivers, the character of 
mountain passes, had all to be ascertained. Allies had to 
be found among tribes as yet unheard of. Countless con- 
tingent difficulties had to be provided for, many of which 
must necessarily arise, though the exact nature of them 
could not be anticipated. When room for accidents is left 
open, accidents do not fail to be heard of. But Caesar was 
never defeated when personally present, save once at Ger- 
govia, and once at Durazzo; and the failure at Gergovia 
was caused by the revolt of the ^Edui; and the manner in 
which the failure at Durazzo was retrieved showed Caesar's 
greatness more than the most brilliant of his victories. He 
was rash, but with a calculated rashness, which the event 
never failed to justify. His greatest successes were due 
to the rapidity of his movements, which brought him on 
the enemy before they heard of his approach. He trav- 
elled sometimes a hundred miles a day, reading or writing 
in his carriage, through countries without roads, and cross- 
ing rivers without bridges. No obstacles stopped him 
when he had a definite end in view. In battle he some- 
times rode; but he was more often on foot, bareheaded, and 
in a conspicuous dress, that he might be seen and recog- 
nized. Again and again by his own efforts he recovered 
a day that was half lost. He once seized a panic-stricken 
standard-bearer, turned him round, and told him that he 
had mistaken the direction of the enemy. He never mis- 
led his army as to an enemy's strength, or if he misstated 
their numbers it was only to exaggerate. In Africa, be- 
fore Thapsus, when his officers were nervous at the re- 
ported approach of Juba, he called them together and said 
briefly, " You will understand that within a day King Juba 
will be here with ten legions, thirty thousand horse, a hun- 


dred thousand skirmishers, and three hundred elephants. 
You are not to think or ask questions. I tell you the 
truth, and you must prepare for it. If any of you are 
alarmed I shall send you home." 

Yet he was singularly careful of his soldiers. He al- 
lowed his legions rest, though he allowed none to him- 
self. He rarely fought a battle at a disadvantage. He 
never exposed his men to unnecessary danger, and the 
loss by wear and tear in the campaigns in Gaul was ex- 
ceptionally and even astonishingly slight. When a gal- 
lant action was performed, he knew by whom it had been 
done, and every soldier, however humble, might feel as- 
sured that if he deserved praise he would have it. The 
army was Caesar's family. When Sabinus was cut off, he 
allowed his beard to grow, and he did not shave it till the 
disaster was avenged. If Quintus Cicero had been his own 
child, he could not have run greater personal risk to save 
him when shut up at Charleroy. In discipline he was leni- 
ent to ordinary faults, and not careful to make curious in- 
quiries into such things. He liked his men to enjoy them- 
selves. Military mistakes in his officers too he always en- 
deavoured to excuse, never blaming them for misfortunes, 
unless there had been a defect of courage as well as judg- 
ment. Mutiny and desertion only he never overlooked. 
And thus no general was ever more loved by, or had 
greater power over, the army which served under him. 
He brought the insurgent Tenth Legion into submission 
by a single word. When the Civil War began and La- 
bienus left him, he told all his officers who had served 
under Pompey that they were free to follow if they wished. 
Not another man forsook him. 

Suetonius says that he was rapacious, that he plundered 
tribes in Spain who were allies of Rome, that he pillaged 
shrines and temples in Gaul, and destroyed cities merely 
for spoil. He adds a story which Cicero would not have 
left untold and uncommented on if he had been so fortu- 
nate as to hear of it: that Caesar when first consul took three 
thousand pounds weight of gold out of the Capitol and re- 


placed it with gilded brass. A similar story is told of the 
Cid and of other heroes of fiction. How came Cicero to 
be ignorant of an act which, if done at all, was done under 
his own eyes? When praetor Caesar brought back money 
from Spain to the treasury; but he was never charged at 
the time with peculation or oppression there. In Gaul 
the war paid its own expenses; but what temples were 
there in Gaul which were worth spoiling? Of temples he 
was, indeed, scrupulously careful. Varro had taken gold 
from the Temple of Hercules at Cadiz. Caesar replaced it. 
Metellus Scipio had threatened to plunder the Temple of 
Diana at Ephesus. Caesar protected it. In Gaul the 
Druids were his best friends; therefore he certainly had not 
outraged religion there; and the quiet of the province dur- 
ing the Civil War is a sufficient answer to the accusation of 
gratuitous oppression. 

The Gauls paid the expenses of their conquest in the 
prisoners taken in battle, who were sold to the slave mer- 
chants; and this is the real blot on Caesar's career. But 
the blot was not personally upon Caesar, but upon the age 
in which he lived. The great Pomponius Atticus him- 
self was a dealer in human chattels. That prisoners of 
war should be sold as slaves was the law of the time, ac- 
cepted alike by victors and vanquished; and the crowds of 
libertini who assisted at Caesar's funeral proved that he 
was not regarded as the enemy of these unfortunates, but 
as their special friend. 

His leniency to the Pompeian faction has already been 
spoken of sufficiently. It may have been politic, but it 
arose also from the disposition of the man. Cruelty 
originates in fear, and Caesar was too indifferent to death 
to fear anything. So far as his public action was con- 
cerned, he betrayed no passion save hatred of injustice; 
and he moved through life calm and irresistible, like a 
force of nature. 

Cicero has said of Caesar's oratory that he surpassed 
those who had practised no other art. His praise of him 
as a man of letters is yet more delicately and gracefully 


emphatic. Most of his writings are lost, but there remain 
seven books of commentaries on the wars in Gaul (the 
eighth was added by another hand), and three books upon 
the Civil War, containing an account of its causes and 
history. Of these it was that Cicero said, in an admirable 
image, that fools might think to improve on them, but 
that no wise man would try it; they were nudi omni ornatu 
orationis, tanquam veste detracta — bare of ornament, the 
dress of style dispensed with, like an undraped human fig- 
ure perfect in all its lines as nature made it. In his com- 
position, as in his actions, Caesar is entirely simple. He 
indulges in no images, no laboured descriptions, no con- 
ventional reflections. His art is unconscious, as the high- 
est art always is. The actual fact of things stands out as 
it really was, not as mechanically photographed, but in- 
terpreted by the calmest intelligence, and described with 
unexaggerated feeling. No military narative has ap- 
proached the excellence of the history of the war in Gaul. 
Nothing is written down which could be dispensed with; 
nothing important is left untold; while the incidents them- 
selves are set off by delicate and just observations on hu- 
man character. The story is rendered attractive by com- 
plimentary anecdotes of persons; while details of the char- 
acter and customs of an unknown and remarkable people 
show the attention which Caesar was always at leisure to 
bestow on anything which was worthy of interest, even 
when he was surrounded with danger and difficulty. The 
books on the Civil War have the same simplicity and clear- 
ness, but a vein runs through them of strong if subdued 
emotion. They contain the history of a great revolution 
related by the principal actor in it; but no effort can be 
traced to set his own side in a favourable light, or to 
abuse or depreciate his adversaries. The coarse invectives 
which Cicero poured so freely upon those who differed 
from him are conspicuously absent. Caesar does not ex- 
ult over his triumphs or parade the honesty of his mo- 
tives. The facts are left to tell their own story; and the 
gallantry and endurance of his own troops are not related 


with more feeling than the contrast between the confident 
hopes of the patrician leaders at Pharsalia and the luxury 
of their camp with the overwhelming disaster which fell 
upon them. About himself and his own exploits there is 
not one word of self-complacency or self-admiration. In 
his writings, as in his life, Caesar is always the same — di- 
rect, straightforward, unmoved save by occasional tender- 
ness, describing with unconscious simplicity how the work 
which had been forced upon him was accomplished. He 
wrote with extreme rapidity in the intervals of other la- 
bour; yet there is not a word misplaced, not a sign of haste 
anywhere, save that the conclusion of the Gallic war was 
left to be supplied by a weaker hand. The commen- 
taries, as an historical narrative, are as far superior to 
any other Latin composition of the kind as the person 
of Caesar himself stands out among the rest of his 

His other compositions have perished, in consequence, 
perhaps, of the unforgiving republican sentiment which re- 
vived among men of letters after the death of Augustus — 
which rose to a height in the " Pharsalia " of Lucan — and 
which leaves so visible a mark in the writings of Tacitus 
and Suetonius. There was a book, " De Analogic," writ- 
ten by Caesar after the conference at Lucca, during the pas- 
sage of the Alps. There was a book on the auspices, 
which, coming from the head of the Roman religion, would 
have thrown a light much to be desired on this curious 
subject. In practice Caesar treated the auguries with con- 
tempt. He carried his laws in open disregard of them. 
He fought his battles careless whether the sacred chickens 
would eat or the calves* livers were of the proper colour. 
His own account of such things in his capacity of Ponti- 
fex would have had a singular interest. 

From the time of his boyhood he kept a commonplace 
book, in which he entered down any valuable or witty say- 
ings, inquiring carefully, as Cicero takes pains to tell us, 
after any smart observation of his own. Niebuhr remarks 
that no pointed sentences of Caesar's can have come down 


to us. Perhaps he had no gift that way, and admired in 
others what he did not possess. 

He left in verse " an account of the stars " — some prac- 
tical almanac, probably, in a shape to be easi